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Decision to Leave

Decision to Leave

Decision to Leave

Synopsis:
A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains meets the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.

A detective investigating a man's death begins to fall for the victim's wife in . Hae-jun () is an insomniac middle-aged detective in an unhappy marriage who investigates the death of a man who fell off a mountain while climbing. Despite no signs of foul play, the man's Chinese wife, Seo-rae (), becomes a prime suspect in the case. However, as Hae-jun spends nights staking out Seo-rae's home, the suspicion soon turns to attraction.

Decision to Leave is a romantic noir drama co-written and directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden), which focuses on the growing attraction between detective Hae-jun and his suspect Seo-rae. Kept up at night with his wall of unresolved cases, Hae-jun sits in his car, observing the actions of Seo-rae to see if she had something to do with the death of her husband, which otherwise looks to be an accident. However, as he finds that his sleep is improving being around her, Hae-jun begins to wonder if he and Seo-rae share a deeper connection.

A very round-about description of Decision to Leave is that the film is structured like an erotic thriller, such as Basic Instinct, without eroticism. Park Chan-wook uses some interesting cinematic techniques to depict Hae-jun's growing obsession with Seo-rae by showing the detective physically in Seo-rae's apartment whenever he is recording audio journals or speaking on the phone with the suspect. This, along with some jarringly edited flashbacks showing the reasons for Hae-jun's insomnia, makes Decision to Leave to be a hard-to-follow film at times.

There is a point in Decision to Leave where Hae-jun tries to move on from Seo-rae and move from Busan to a more isolated community, only to be surprised when she surfaces as part of a completely unrelated case to the original. This section of the film makes Seo-rae the obsessed one trying to recreate her original connection with Hae-jun. By this point, the plot of Decision to Leave has become too convoluted for its own good.

As a filmmaker known predominantly for hyper-violent thrillers, such as the Vengence trilogy of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance, Park Chan-wook goes in a much more dramatic direction with Decision to Leave. While the film also has some flourishes of film noir, Decision to Leave might alienate some of Park Chan-wook's longtime fans. The film's story is OK enough, but it is ultimately somewhat to follow the different layers of Decision to Leaveβ€˜s narrative.

Trailer for Decision to Leave

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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