Decision to Leave – Film Review

Director: Park Chan-wook

Writers: Jeong Seo-kyeong, and Park Chan-wook

Starring: Tang Wi and Park Hae-il

Rating: ★★★★

Park Chan-wook’s new film is Decision to Leave, a romantic thriller that follows detective Hae-Jun (Park Hae-il) as he investigates the death of Ki Do Soo. At first it looks like it may be an accident, as he’s found at the foot of a mountain and died from falling, but something doesn’t add up. Hae-Jun starts to suspect that Ki Do Soo’s wife, Song Seo-rae (Tang Wei), has something to do with his death. He starts to investigate her, slowly becoming obsessed with her and that obsession goes both ways.

Hae-Jun is an insomniac and an obsessively organised person. He’s haunted by the cases that he hasn’t been able to solve, keeping the pictures up on the wall of his rented apartment behind a curtain. He works in Busan during the week, and then spends his weekends in Ipo with his wife, Jung-An (Lee Jung-hyun). His life is very compartmented and organised. While he’s told by his superiors that he doesn’t need to investigate the death, since there’s bigger crimes to solve and it’s an open and shut case, he still follows the clues. That is until he starts to become obsessed and befriends the suspect. His life starts to unravel as he gets closer and closer to her, all the while not knowing if she’s involved with the death of her husband.

Everything about the world within the film feels very real and grounded. The characters are all deeply flawed and not entirely likable, and there’s no pretending that the protagonist is close to perfect. When the film starts, he’s on another case that overlaps with the death that becomes the focus of most of the film. You get to see that case play out and later on another one that he’s assigned to. It feels like there’s more to the world than what the story shows, and that you’re only getting a glimpse of the full story. There’s also a great sense of humour, with a fair few funny moments that don’t feel obtrusive to the main story.

Visually the film is simply stunning. The cinematography and editing are vibrant and alive. The scenes flow into each other perfectly and it’s spellbinding to watch.  All of it is backed by a chilling and subtle score that really heightens the tension. It’s masterful storytelling that’s completely engaging from start to finish, and the almost two hour and twenty minutes run time just passes instantly. The opening is a whirlwind, setting up the story and pieces, and when it settles down the mystery has you hooked completely. Decision to Leave is a completely absorbing and mesmerising thriller. It’s beautifully shot, filled with captivating characters, and a mystery that twists and turns throughout.  

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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