Even for these aware of the Korean filmmaker’s strategy, Park Chan-wook usually finds a method to burrow deeper under style surfaces than you thought doable. Across movies regarding vampire monks (2009’s Thirst), traditionally taboo sensuality (The Handmaiden), and the deep alternative prices of violent retaliation (his Vengeance Trilogy), Park delivers expansive, exhilarating work that’s vigorously existential, usually powerfully erotic and perpetually important.
Add Decision to Leave to that vaunted checklist, a shocking romantic thriller of sweeping panoramas, subtle-gesture performances, luxurious location work, sly wit, dizzying narrative particulars and steep-drop feelings. Don’t be dismayed as Park and co-writer Jeong Seo-kyeong serve up the prototypical plot of a married cop falling for a girl who could be a killer. This is a slice of noir infused with intimate context about social composure and emotional entropy in modern life. It adapts the style’s many analog pleasures into an period of digital anxiousness and deploys developments with such flourish and aptitude that the fortissimo feelings of its finale may very well be definitive or debatable. Many films co-opt the obsessive overtones of Vertigo. This is likely one of the only a few that dares to dabble in one thing fairly totally different, and dazzling, with its homage.
Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) is an insomniac murder detective in Busan, South Korea, who has been in a “weekend marriage” for a decade-plus. During the week and throughout all hours, Hae-jun toils within the metropolis. On weekends, he makes a protracted drive again to a seaside village to be along with his spouse, Jung-an (Lee Jung-hyun).
His newest case issues the demise of a leisure rock climber, whose Chinese widow, Seo-rae (Tang Wei), is noticeably nonplussed by the information of this loss of life. Hae-jun’s go-getter associate, Soo-wan (Go Kyung-pyo), is for certain Seo-rae is behind it. It’s all the time the partner, proper? But Hae-jun is a hardened veteran who acknowledges prison compulsion. Surely, this was simply an accident. Maybe a suicide. No one as refined and soft-handed as Seo-rae may have performed an element in a homicide. Any happiness Seo-rae feels is from escaping the abuse delivered by a bored civil-servant husband so brutish he burned his initials on her physique. Open and shut. Certainly not certain to stay perpetually on Hae-jun’s wall of unresolved-crime images, proper? Right?
Park Chan-wook and Jeong let this thriller unfold with a playful, purposeful disruption of visible planes and editorial rhythms, all whereas composer Jo Yeong-wook’s pizzicato strings pluck on the paranoia and castanets click on like scorpion claws. Editor Kim Sang-bum cuts cinematographer Kim Ji-yong’s arresting pictures in ways in which evoke Hae-jun’s barely acutely aware consciousness as he burns a skinny, small candle at each ends. Images, gadgets and characters slingshot by way of time and house, current in a state of flux related to digital fingerprints and echoes that propel Hae-jun’s investigation and his burgeoning intimacy with Seo-rae. For a connection that by no means ideas into something almost as bodily express as moments in Park’s Thirst or The Handmaiden, the connection between Hae-jun and Seo-rae stays robustly sensual. It’s attuned to the intimacy of bodily investigation, constructing to a second that includes synchronized respiration between Hae-jun and Seo-rae that’s much more arousing than something extra nakedly titillating.
Decision to Leave additionally stands in deep distinction to the free-flowing carnage of Park Chan-wook’s previous work; aside from hypothesis in Hae-jun’s thoughts’s eye, essentially the most violent factor right here is the ding of Hae-jun’s alarm to rouse him from reveries. Indeed, Hae-jun and Seo-rae’s telephones are extensions of themselves, telecom tendrils to tickle one another’s ears even once they’re aside.
Have you additionally seen dozens of tales of criminals keen to be caught and cops keen to be outwitted? Of course, however hardly ever with such deep, emotional character work. Decision to Leave is all the time as observant as it’s ostentatious about how shut to criminality Hae-jun is teetering. Statistics about cultural failure and finality that Hae-jun’s spouse and associate share with him slowly perforate his fastidiously ordered world. That Hae-jun’s complacency will give method to complicity is inevitable. He’s already been slowly testing the waters of all the pieces he can get away with when he holds solely essentially the most tenuous connections to custom; the disengagement from Jung-an is nearly worse than any divorce may probably be. Little does Hae-jun know he’s wading right into a raging sea Seo-rae has already conquered as an immigrant to Korea who endured horrifying situations and survived all of them. Perhaps she may simply render Hae-sun among the many million nameless creatures content material to swim aimlessly inside these waters.
All of this doesn’t even crack the second half of Decision to Leave. Of this, nothing extra shall be mentioned past two issues: 1) Park Chan-wook primarily delivers two terrific movies for the worth of 1 and expertly assesses the chance prices of each. 2) What a pleasant payoff to the subplot a few turtle housebreaking. Beautifully shot, exquisitely directed and thoughtfully written, Decision to Leave exists in that candy spot of noir — the fermata earlier than the fates we foretell for ourselves. It’s a monumental thriller during which you might be all the time in masterful fingers.