#AJFF2017 Film Review | Past Life


A brilliantly emotion-packed film, Past Life, is inspired by a true story about two sisters Sephi (played by Joy Reiger) and Nana (Nelly Tager), who find themselves, 30 years after the Holocaust, forced to dig up the truth about their father's haunting past. The story thickens after an electrifying vocal performance, when Sephi is abruptly reviled in public by an elderly Polish woman, Agnieska Zielinski (Katarzyna Gniewkowska), who accuses Sephi's father of being a murderer. Confused and devastated, the sisters commence their own secret investigation of their their Holocaust-surviving father, Baruch (Doron Tavory), with hopes of piecing together their father's secret wartime past. As the film progresses, Baruch decides to disclose the truth about what took place during the War and shares the dark story about the months he had to hide from the Nazis in a Polish cellar. With this new insight into their father's past, the sisters find themselves even more inquisitive about whether even this is truth or not as it poses serious questions about their own heritage and sense of personal identity. 


Nana later discovers that she is severely ill as the family progressively begins to blame her condition  as a curse resulting from her father's transgressions. Yet, the brilliance about this entire film is the turn of forgiveness and reconciliation that it teaches. We learn how the past has its direct and indirect influence on the future and about the burden of strong intergenerational ties. Past Life is a film for anyone who understands the importance of moving beyond the past no matter how painful it is, in order to move forward. This film empowers you to forgive, to let go and to courageously address matters that could either damage or otherwise restore for generations to come.