Decision to Leave (2022)

Decision to Leave (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Decision to Leave (2022)
Director: Park Chan-wook
Cast: Park Hae-il, Tang Wei and Lee Jung-hyun
Genres: Mystery/Romance
Release date: 29 June 2022
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10
Languages: Korean, Mandarin, and English
Duration: 2h 18m


Decision to Leave (2022)


Six years after The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook returned to Cannes to present his new film. Park received the award for best director – and it must be admitted that it was rightfully so. The South Korean esthete has once again presented a work that, although not perfect in all respects, from the first shots, releases a sovereign author’s work, in which it is a pleasure to indulge.

The film is presented as a detective romance, focusing on the development of one (rather) platonic relationship against the background of the investigation of several criminal cases. However, the constant wind together of love and murder pattern at the same time enhances the atmosphere of a mysterious thriller peppered with a pinch of magical realism. Few people can create such a layered and at the same time natural combination of genres as South Korean creators; next to Bong Joon-ho, behind the Oscar-winning Parasite, among others, is of course worth mentioning.

Park tells the story of the extremely polite detective Hae-joon, who believes in cleanliness, solved cases, and dignified treatment of both victims and criminals. Park Hae-il’s well-shaded performance also underlines the policeman’s sick insomnia and inability to connect emotionally with his wife. However, it is precisely these problems that will be solved by meeting the charming Seo-rae (Tang Wei), whose husband fell off a cliff under mysterious circumstances. A bond begins to form between the two complicated characters, which turns out to be destructive, especially for the orderly law enforcement officer.

The non-linear and sometimes unreliable narration uses a pattern known from noir films or from Alfred Hitchcock’s noir films- a seductive femme fatale seduces a policeman, but unfortunately, her intentions are not crystal clear. However, Park transformed the well-known theme into an Asian-subtle performance full of repressed emotions, a sense of responsibility, and a struggle with oneself.

The film is often accused of overblown footage approaching the 140-minute mark. Thanks to the imaginative direction and Park’s ability to surprise the viewer, this is not a major problem – although it must be acknowledged that the film could have ended a little earlier and it would not have hurt the story too much. On the other hand, the work with the space and its capture is excellent, even though this time Park’s most frequent collaborator Jung Jung-hoon (recently conquering Hollywood thanks to Uncharted, Last Night in Soho, or the series Obi-Wan Kenobi) was not behind the camera, but much lesser known Kim Ji-Yong.

Despite the criminal nature of the story, Park tries to work gently with the gradual transformation of the relationship between the protagonists. This effort is not always clearly successful, and some of the steps on the side reek of wishful thinking and over-combination, but there can be no doubt about the appeal of such an approach – also thanks to the recurring counterpoints between fog and the sun, mountains and the sea, or Chinese and Korean. The layered differences and similarities between the two main characters prevent their clear understanding, thanks to which Park manages to at least approach the cagey phenomenon called love.

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