"A drip of water in 'Decision to Leave' ever so delicately evolves into a cascade"
As with many of Park Chan-Wook’s films, 'Decision to Leave' sweeps you off of your feet and effortlessly drags you into the murky depths of its narrative. There were so many clever cinematic devices that were magical to watch, pushing the procedural crime plot along, pushing one smaller domino into a slightly larger one, which knocks forth another two lines and so on. The creativity generated the kind of filmic magic that one gets from a film such as 'Citizen Kane'; the magic is created by a disregard for the rules and a complete understanding of the way that film can work. In this case, comparisons to Hitchcock’s 'Vertigo' I think are also totally justified, you get a feeling that its there in the background, in the romance, or lack thereof.
The key feeling to the film for the most part happens between the dialogue, in the smaller, less directly noticeable areas; two hands touching whilst cuffed, a side glance, the thoughts behind the faces. Despite lacking the overt violence in his other works, Park’s film still bathes in the underlying darkness in people and their unspoken urges. The usual focus on the crimes and who committed them sort of takes a back seat. Instead, we fixate on the detective and his emotions felt towards the person he follows.
'Decision to Leave' balances on uncertainty, an uncertainty that is navigated artfully and delicately by Park Hae-il and Tang-Wei. The scenes between Seo-Rae and Hae-il where google translate is used in an attempt to convey the perfect word for the situation I feel stood out well as example for this navigation of uncertainty. Seo-Rae’s translation of the word ‘shattered’ from Korean into her mother tongue Mandarin hangs around from its presentation in that scene right through to the final dying embers of the picture, and when all is said and done, we ourselves are left shattered and drowned in the complexities of the narrative.
A drip of water in 'Decision to Leave' ever so delicately evolves into a cascade with each unspoken word. Park Chan-Wook has created a film that has distilled the essence of his previous works, without the polarity in violence, but a newfound subtlety that ends up with a technical and dramatic marvel. He stands apart from almost all of the rest within the industry as an example of a pure cinesmith – I’m not sure that is a word, but it deserves to be one, and deserves even more so to be given to Park Chan-Wook.