Home Decision To Leave

Decision To Leave (15)

Cast: Tang Wei, Park Hae-il, Go Kyung-pyo
Genre: Drama
Author(s): Park Chan-wook, Jeong Seo-kyeong
Director: Park Chan-wook
Release Date: 21/10/2022 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 139mins
Country: S Korea
Year: 2022

Insomniac and workaholic Hae-joon is the youngest police detective in Busan. His health-conscious wife Jung-an lives in Ipo and constantly complains that they have a "weekend marriage" because he devotes more time to solving grisly murders than their passionless relationship. Proving her point, he fixates on the case of a rock climber, who supposedly tumbled to his death. Hae-joon suspects foul play and the dead man's younger wife Seo-rae is a prime suspect.


LondonNet Film Review

Decision To Leave (15) Film Review from LondonNet

Choreographed on-screen violence has become a signature of award-winning South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, most notably for international audiences in his razor-sharp trilogy comprising Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance. There are flashes of brutality in this slow-burning police thriller, including a sickening tumble from the top of a mountain, but greater damage is inflicted on characters’ psyches as the writer-director puts his distinctive spin on an erotically charged game of cat and mouse a la Basic Instinct. Co-written by Park and Jeong Seo-kyeong, Decision To Leave doesn’t overplay its winning hand in the opening hour, stoking sexual tension between lead actors Park Hae-il and Tang Wei on opposite sides of a murder investigation…

Heat between the characters is palpable and the film relishes lingering glances between hunter and prey (the distinction between the two is intentionally blurred) as they circle each other. The script toys with noir genre tropes and lull us into a false sense of familiarity in a slow-paced first hour before plot machinations kick in with force, steeped in tragedy and regret. The blitzkrieg we are silently expecting never manifests and die-hard Park fans may feel short-changed by the scarcity of mutilated bodies on a mortuary slab.

Insomniac and workaholic Hae-joon (Hae-il) is the youngest police detective in Busan, who prowls the city’s streets with hot-tempered colleague Soo-wan (Go Kyung-pyo). Hae-joon’s health-conscious wife Jung-an (Lee Jung-hyun) lives in quieter surroundings in Ipo, where she works in the nuclear power plant. In the few hours she sees Hae-joon, Jung-an complains bitterly that they have a “weekend marriage” because he devotes more time during the week to solving grisly murders than their passionless relationship. Proving her point, he fixates on the case of a rock climber (Yoo Seung-mok), who supposedly tumbled to his death after a leisurely Monday morning ascent.

Blood spatter indicates the victim hit the rock face multiple times as he fell and Hae-joon becomes convinced that he is investigating foul play. The dead man’s younger wife Seo-rae (Wei), who works as a carer for the elderly, is interviewed and the usually implacable Hae-joon develops an obsession with his prime suspect. “From the start, I knew we were of the same breed,” he quietly confides to Seo-rae, who fuels the flames of Hae-joon’s infatuation, jeopardising the integrity of the case and his marriage.

Decision To Leave drains patience with its protracted murder mystery set-up but the rewards are abundant as Park steadily turns the thumbscrews on his protagonists. Hae-il and Wei are a powerhouse pairing, the latter embodying a heroine who slinks in a morally grey area between victim and femme fatale. Park’s stylistic flourishes energise the police procedural elements and keep us guessing a haphazard route to the satisfying outcome.

– Kim Hu


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