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Review of ‘Decision to leave’ (2022): Park Chan-wook’s neo-noir

Decision to leave is another masterful entry in Park Chan-wook’s filmography, showcasing his high command of the art of filmmaking and his effortless ability to make compelling, high-quality cinema. It opens in cinemas on Friday 20 January.

Decision to leave is Park Chan-wook’s new movie. Before Bong Joon-Ho made history with his magnum opus ‘Parasite’ in 2019, Park had already put the South Korean film industry on the global map with classics like ‘Old Boy’ or, more recently in 2016, “The maiden”. After a break of six years, the director returns with Decision to leave, another spectacular addition to his more than outstanding filmography, where his most loyal followers will easily notice the personal touch, which ranges from his peculiar treatment of the characters to his great technical knowledge. In fact, one of the main aspects to highlight is Park’s use of genre. At first, he will play with it noir in the purest Hitchcock style to then later become one slow-burn psychological romance that will count with small moments of dark humor unexpected and well received. Eventually, it will transform into one painful drama full of longing. Park will tie everything together in a fascinating web that will constantly make us question what he is showing us.

Decision to leave begins with detective Jang Hae-joon, played by Park Hae-il, investigating an alleged crime scene where an experienced rock climber is found dead after falling off a cliff. The detective, as experienced as he is impressionable, will fall in love with the mysterious widow of the climber Seo-rae, played by Tang Wei, after she becomes one of the main suspects in the possible murder.

Review of PARASITES, perfection made into a movie

A fun thriller

Decision to leave

Park Chan-wook has created a neo-noir in every sense of the word with this film, as its narrative structure is filled with flashbacks, voice-over sequences, and archetypes of familiar characters in the genre. The execution and fusion of each of these aspects means that Decision to leave feels familiar while generating intrigue and full immersion, as long as one gets fully into their game. With a total running time of 138 minutes, Decision to leave it’s the kind of movie that requires patience -not in a bad way- and maybe more than one reviewed to fully appreciate many of the subtleties it can bring. It’s a fun thriller without crossing the line to where he feels that the case is not being taken seriously, as the film is a precisely crafted puzzle that takes its time to reach an unexpected but fascinating conclusion. Park makes sure not to reveal the cards too early and keeps the audience in suspense for most of the running timeso they can have the pleasure of solving the mystery alongside the protagonist.

Decision to leave he uses editing techniques to let his story unfold in unconventional ways. For example, the protagonist’s thought process while trying to solve the murder case is often visualized for the audience to see, adding a unique element that works wonderfully. In addition to this, the movie is beautiful. Park often chooses gloomy and dark subjects, but actually films them with great clarity and fills the screen with bright colors. Finally, the cast is great too. Park Hae-il and Tang Weiwho delivers a spectacular performance joining the great femme fatales of the genre, they have a natural chemistry as their relationship develops, which is fascinating to watch and brings a credibility that propels the film on its own.


For all audiences

Decision to leave

The central premise of a policeman who falls in love with a suspect it is not newBut, Park finds many ways to do in a fresh and relatable way that it seems like it’s the first time we’ve seen this dynamic play out. Decision to leave it’s a downright great movie and easy to recommend, even for people who are not used to South Korean cinema or the director’s. With its many turns, performances and techniques, Park Chan-wook’s latest work is sure to surprise and delight to both cinephiles and wider audiences.

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