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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: Decision to Leave

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

Park Hae-il, Go Kyung-Pyo & Tang Wei.

Decision to Leave is one of the most impressively shot films of the year, with shots so creative it sent my mind spiralling with questions. There’s no doubt that Park Chan-wook is one of the most talented directors in the past 20 years, producing cinematic achievements after another. It almost felt impossible for him to top any of his previous work, or figure out a new visual style to tell a new story. He does it to near perfection here.

It can’t be denied that while visually stunning, the use of faulty VFX used for multiple sequences in the film became rather distracting, or at least it did for me. While the framing isn’t at fault, the use of obvious green screen and visual effects took me out briefly. That aside, Park’s ability to visualise never seen before shots, accompanied by pitch perfect camerawork is nothing but astonishing. I was baffled with some of the visuals on display here, i simply paused the film to take a minute. Without the doubt one of the most creative films of the year, along with Everything Everywhere All At Once, Park has me stunned.

As for the story, while I welcomed the non chronological storytelling. Whether it is a fault of my own or not, I found it rather confusing to the point where I anticipated some sort of recap for anything I had possibly missed, but I didn’t. The film feeds you information rather quickly, if the audience get it, they get it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. The episodic structure became so frequent and with a lack of clarity that there was constantly a disconnect I had with the overall narrative, which was a shame to me because there was clearly a powerful narrative at display here. It will work for some, others, not so much.

Each character is deeply flawed, so much so, it affects their own professional lives. This display of flaw is always told through visual storytelling, while the script was fleshed out and dialogue flowed like waves, I found the film to speak more with silence.

A film so layered and acting so nuanced, it’s an impossible film to discuss without spoilers. It’s one of the best international films of the year, one of the most visually intelligent films of the year. Complimented by fantastic production design, score & sound.

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