Decision to Leave (2022)
September 14, 2022 7:17 AM - Subscribe

A detective investigating a man's death in the mountains meets the dead man's mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing. "Six years after lighting a fire in Cannes with his erotically charged thriller The Handmaiden, South Korean master Park Chan-wook returns with an altogether different work, a luscious neo-noir whose more restrained surface nonetheless reveals churning currents of sensuality and danger underneath. While the new film recalls procedural elements that go back to the director’s 2000 commercial breakthrough, Joint Security Area, this is a far richer, twistier detective story. Crafted with unforced humor, ravishing visuals and commanding maturity, Decision to Leave intoxicates with its potent brew of love, emotional manipulation — or is it? —and obsession." - Hollywood Reporter
posted by vacapinta (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Justwatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:00 AM on September 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Of course Park Chan-wook is also known for the film OldBoy.
I saw Decision to Leave last week here in the Netherlands and found it hugely entertaining. The visuals were indeed stunning with a lot of beautiful cinematography but the movie is also a dark comedy and really funny and wild in parts. I'm not sure what genre this film falls into -neo-noir, detective story, romance, thriller, dark comedy, absurdist film, tragedy - but it somehow manages to do them all.
posted by vacapinta at 3:42 AM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this was presented to me as a "romantic thriller" and after watching it, that's not how I would describe it in a million years. While not exactly wrong, the romance is all dark and forbidden. It's hard to make a movie with equal parts comedy and tragedy, but this is definitely that. I got to a point in the story where I thought it was wrapping up and then a whole new chapter started. Really good film, but wish I'd gone in with slightly different expectations.
posted by rikschell at 3:40 PM on November 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Funnily, when I read "romantic thriller" in the previous comment I was like YES that's what it is! It's a romance like Basic Instinct isn't. It's dark but it isn't that lurid and cynical.

I wanted them to get together. I liked it as a kind of weird romance between fucked-up people, like Three Days of the Condor how Faye Dunaway's character is Not Normal; strange people finding each other in the world somehow will always get romance points from me.

I wish I had more cultural context to appreciate this. Like to understand her way of speech that seemed old-fashioned. And to know whether I missed something in the final bit where she makes a little mountain of sand to get buried in the sea), if there is some kind of pun or something in the throwing the phone into the sea and how he realizes that's the "I love you" (it seems). Maybe I also have missed out on anything satirical about it. (Like is Song Seo-rae's green/blue dress a reference to Long Day's Journey Into Night? IDK.)
posted by fleacircus at 6:33 PM on February 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

Like to understand her way of speech that seemed old-fashioned.

Apparently Park-Chan Wook played with the idea of making this a period piece so those audio recordings would have been letters instead. Ultimately, he went with audio recordings from a smart watch, but decided her odd way of talking comes from watching older movies over and over.

Visually, Seo-rae is consistently connected with the ocean. (From a Jungian perspective, the ocean is a symbolic manifestation of female power and specifically the power of female sexuality.) The apartment wallpaper, the blue green notebook, the fentanyl pills, and the blue green dress. It's also revealed in the police interview she also came to Korea on a boat. (The buttons on her dress being reminiscent of the blue green fentanyl pills). So there is all this symbolic foreshadowing that she will end up in ocean. It's also also lovely the movie is framed by two suicides-the first one fake, but the second real-engineered by the same person.

Wook was inspired by the Martin Beck book series. Beck is a Swedish police detective. There have been a lot of film adaptations as well as a tv show and a bbc radio series. He started with the premise, "What if Martin Beck fell for a suspect?" and worked from there. There's actually a shot of all the Beck books on Hae-joon's desk when Seo-rae comes to visit him the first time.

Park Hae-il has worked with Wook once before in the Host.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:51 AM on February 19, 2023 [3 favorites]

We noticed the Beck books! My SO has read them all and we had a good laugh. I caught a little bit of the symbolism with the sea (and the mountains, in the mountain-vs-sea thing that was going on) but I should have connected the dress buttons to the fentanyl pills, I wondered why the camera was noting those buttons!
posted by fleacircus at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

This movie is definitely loaded with visual details. I'm going to have rewatch it this week and see what I missed.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:32 PM on February 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

when I ran the words blue and green through Google translate's simplified and traditional Chinese ( they don't specify which dialect ) they sounded very similar.

The English subtitles don't specify which region of China Seo-rae is from.
posted by brujita at 4:07 PM on February 25, 2023

Park Hae-il has worked with Wook once before in the Host.

"The Host" was directed by Bong Joon-ho. I don't think Tang Wei, Park Hae-il, or Park Chan-Wook has worked with one another before.
posted by dogstoevski at 9:53 AM on April 11, 2023

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