Park Chan-wook‘s intro paragraph on Wikipedia closes with the following:
“His films have gained notoriety for their cinematography and framing, black humour and often brutal subject matters.” And this is all perfectly captured in their latest feature Decision To Leave, with heavy emphasis on the “brutal”.
Hae-jun, played by Park Hae-il, is a renowned Detective in Busan. Struggling to sleep as unresolved cases settle within them, they pursue the conclusion of one case as the next lands directly at their feet. Seo-rae, portrayed by Tang Wei, is the widow to a man who dies in mysterious circumstances from a mountain fall. As Hae-jun begins to investigate, a connection starts to form between them and the widow.
And god is it horny.
Now you may be thinking of the quintessential Western romps of the genre. The likes of Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction and Disclosure. But it’s not them at all. While the cultural differences can be somewhat attributed to its presentation, it is also thanks to Chan-wook’s direction. You know, the “cinematography and framing” part of that introduction on Wikipedia. Deliriously gorgeous scenery is captured immaculately, while deliberate zooming and structure helps reinforce what the moments are talking to.
While the beauty of the environment helps, it’s the subjects themselves that push it over the line. Hae-il as the stoic Hae-jun who slowly breaks down as the film goes on, does tremendously to show the signs of lust which bubble under the surface when seeing the person causing this. But its Wei as Seo-rae who sends the film into orbit. Mesmerizing in their cultural informalities, they have you and the Detective second-guessing every piece of information dangled in front of you. And while films typically don’t follow any particular act structure, the film has a clear part I and part II, where Seo-rae continues to throw you off the path of where the film is heading. Keeping you hooked until its final moment, Seo-rae leaves you as stunned as Hae-jun with the brutal conclusion.
The film is exceptional.
From it’s offbeat starting, to its subtle moments in long term relationships and the pressure of it, it wraps them all up into a delicious watch which leaves you breathless at the end. I honestly think this film will be second favorite watch of 2022.
Can We Be Your Lover Too?
It's insane how much Decision To Leave breathes you in to spit you out. Absolutely rapturous in the relationships it forms on-screen in the most minute ways, it's probably my new favourite love story where maybe they shouldn't be in love. And Tang Wei should get ready to chew up the Awards circuit like she did the screen in this film. It's going to be a big one for them and Director Park Chan-Wook. 5 STARS!