Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave (Heojil kyolshim) follows a murder investigation headed by the highly respected detective, Hae-jun (Park Hae-il), who begins to fall for the primary suspect in his case, a mysterious widow named Seo-rae (Tang Wei). 

Every aspect deserves the utmost praise, the highest of which must go to Park Hae-il and Tang Wei, who both deliver performances of a lifetime, doing Jeong Seo-kyeong and Park Chan-wook’s poetic screenplay justice by embodying such nuanced and flawed characters who you long to root for. The breathtaking cinematography by Kim Ji-yong adds to the incredible atmosphere, alongside the skillful editing by Kim Sang-bum, where the meticulous attention to detail is especially showcased during the scene transitions. There’s a satisfying pay off every single time, which makes the whole film feel as tidy as Hae-jun’s character and as cunning as Seo-rae. Of course, everything is elevated by the beautifully haunting score by Jo Yeong-wook.

The run time, clocking in at 138 minutes, is a bit long, but there aren’t any frivolous scenes here. The story is tight and fast-paced, forcing your attention throughout, and at the end, the pieces are tied together with an incredibly daring yet perfect bow that will leave you speechless when the credits roll. This is the type of film that begs two or three viewings just to appreciate the entirety of it, and each rewatch will certainly be a different experience, which is part of what makes this so brilliant.

What a joy it is to sit back and watch a film like Decision to Leave–a one of a kind piece of art that feels special from the very beginning, but the sort of visceral emotions this film elicits are to be expected from a director as masterful as Park Chan-wook.

RATING: 5/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Tang Wei, Park Hae-il

DIRECTOR: Park Chan-wook

WRITERS: Jeong Seo-kyeong, Park Chan-wook

SYNOPSIS: A detective falls for a mysterious widow after she becomes the prime suspect in his latest murder investigation.