Review: Past Lives is one of the films of the year

The Whānau Mārama New Zealand International Film Festival has rolled out across the country with a feast of film for audiences to savour.

Among them - and due back on general release in cinemas at the end of the month - is Past Lives.

Celine Song, a first-time filmmaker, has delivered one of the films of the year. It's a story told across three chapters, time zones and countries.

We first meet the two protagonists Nora and Hae Sung as childhood friends in Seoul, South Korea.

Soon after, Nora's family emigrates to Toronto and the pair lose touch. When they reconnect, it's that long-distance connection over Skype that draws them back together.

Both these two kindred souls are just so accessible and so watchable - you feel what they feel and you can't help feeding into their story with your own.

When they finally come face-to-face as adults against the backdrop of New York City, with their life choices and their very identities swirling around them, you simply cannot take your eyes off them.

Of course, our lives are far more complicated than that.

We know from the opening scene that Nora has married a New Yorker when Hae Sung comes to visit.

And the beating heart of this story is driven home in many ways by these two men and their love for the same woman. It's just divine.

Past Lives should not be missed - it's a five-star watch.