Park Chan-wook mixes mystery and romance

Park Chan-wook can tell a lot about its characters and story just by laying out a table. Decision to leaveChan-wook’s first film since 2016 The servantis part romance and part police procedural, like Detective Hae-joon (Hae-il Park) investigates the murder of a dead man on top of a mountain. Hae-joon suspects the man’s wife, Seo-rae (Tang Wei) might have something to do with her husband’s death, and so he brings her in for questioning.


Hae-joon is married to Jung-an (Lee Jung Hyun), but the couple are often separated because of their work, and their intimacy is not what it should be, even to the point that they plan sex in advance. Hae-joon and Jung-an care about each other, but this relationship is clearly not what it should be. Compare this stiffness to when Hae-joon brings Seo-rae in for questioning. Although the dynamic between these two is awkward at first, they quickly find a rapport that works for them, which results in these two starting to fall in love with each other. But when Jung-an orders lunch for the two of them during his interrogation – a gorgeous set of sushi for two – they clean the table with such care and ease, as if they were the married couple who made him a million. of times. before. Through this scene, Chan-wook sets the stage, literally and figuratively, for a remarkable love story and an equally solid mystery.

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However, Chan-wook, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeong Seo-kyeongdoes not Decision to leave a thriller, but rather an exploration of this relationship between Hae-joon and Seo-rae. There’s a murder at the center of their story, and part of how Decision to leaveThe denouement of focuses on what happened to Seo-rae’s husband, but this love story is still the focal point of Chan-wook’s narrative – the linchpin that ties together both procedural and romance. Chan-wook is expected to balance both sides of this story beautifully, allowing both sides of this story to go in unexpected directions.

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Chan-wook and Seo-kyeong’s story is about varying perspectives, how the world can be drastically changed depending on your point of view. While Seo-rae’s husband sees the mountain he died on as a catharsis of his everyday life, Seo-rae potentially saw it as a clean escape from his abusive relationship. But on an even larger scale, Decision to leave acts to question what we see and how we perceive this story. Is Seo-rae just a great actor trying to bring Hae-joon together so she can get away with her crimes, or does she also fall for Hae-joon? Seo-rae is a Chinese living in Korea, often having to translate her intentions into another language, and similarly, Chan-wook and Seo-kyeong ask their audience to translate their choices and understand what they mean at the course of this story.

Decision to leave constantly adds layers to this already twisty and convoluted story, but it’s never overwhelmed by the weight of those additions. A shift in the film’s second half recontextualizes aspects of the first half, making us reconsider the story beats we were already still spinning in our heads. But in this shift, Chan-wook’s story becomes even more intense and exciting, as another murder finds parallels to the first, and the love story between Hae-joon and Seo-rae becomes even more intense. strong. During Decision to leave Chan-wook continually elevates what we watch, and the film never gets too much to handle.

But it’s also thanks to the incredible performances of Park Hae-il and Tang Wei, who both had to deal with the lack of love they’ve been dreaming of for too long, and may have found what they were looking for in each of them. other. Hae-joon finds himself engaging in surveillance, almost falling asleep on the road instead of in his bed at home, while Seo-rae seems almost excited to be part of Hae-joon’s mystery. These two characters are quite reserved, but the performances of Park Hae-il and Tang Wei show the desire and passion buried just below the surface, almost ready to burst from their skin. Decision to leave works almost like a counterpoint to Chan-wook’s The servantbecause it is a love story told entirely through silent stares, and assumptions made by the other, but without the sexual aspect that gave Chan-wook’s previous film a kind of catharsis to this story.

Again, the beauty of Decision to leave This is how Chan-wook can set his table with so many ideas, diversions and elements, all for an all too exquisite experience. Not only does Chan-wook blend detective mystery and romance, but Decision to leave is oddly funny, full of dark humor that fits right in with everything else. Of course, as expected, Decision to leave is also gorgeous, with jaw-dropping transitions and stunning cinematography from Kim Ji-yong. With Decision to leavePark Chan-wook places all the pieces on this impressive table before we sit down for a sumptuous meal which once again proves to be a fascinating director who can blend all of these ingredients together and make it all seem effortless.

Evaluation: B+

Decision to leave hits theaters on October 14.

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