#CANNES22: “DECISION TO LEAVE” REVIEW
By Amanda Gilmore
Visionary South Korean Director Park Chan-Wook is back with this visually stunning romantic Thriller Noir.
After a man falls to his death from a mountain, Detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) meets his widow Seo-rae (Chinese Actress Tang Wei). She seems to be unaffected by the death of her husband. This causes suspicion amongst the detectives in the precinct. All signs point to her as suspect number one. But Hae-joon doesn’t believe that this mysterious woman could do such a thing. After stakeouts and an interrogation, Hae-joon becomes smitten with the mysterious Seo-rae. Now he must decide if his feelings get in the way of the investigation.
Decision to Leave starts out as a Detective Thriller and turns into something more heartfelt. In brilliant Chan-Wook style the edits and transitions are a visual feast for the eyes. Chan-Wook makes these transitions feel like they are one continuous take. They transport our detective into another scene that is playing out inside his mind. It’s a mesmerizing camera technique that is a delight to witness. There are shots that will dazzle and make any cinephile gasp.
The first half plays out like a gritty Detective Thriller Noir. Hae-joon is on a mission to find who threw this man off of the mountain. It seems like he found his prime suspect but her demeanour throws Hae-joon off. He finds this woman mesmerizing. The effect she has on him is paramount and the audience understands the emotion, thanks to the strong performance from Hae-il. He looks at her like she has all the answers in the world.
That’s when this noir turns into something more romantic. A blossoming relationship flourishes between the two. In lesser hands, this wouldn’t work. However, Chan-Wook excels in this storytelling. Seo-rae has clearly lived a difficult life. She’s been abused by her deceased husband. She carries this weight with her and it’s part of the reason Hae-joon falls for her. The audience is swept-away in this romance because of the chemistry between the two leads.
It’s in the second half when Seo-rae comes back into Hae-joon’s life that Chan-Wook’s intention comes through. This is a story about two people who fall in love in the oddest of circumstances. It’s about how far someone will go to protect the one they love. Wei’s performance is one of the best of the entire decade. It’s a special one that needs to be seen to be believed. She masters the art of mystery within her character. Although some would play Seo-rae as a psychopath, Wei grounds her. She’s a person who has never received real love and care until she met Hae-joon. Due to this, she will stop at nothing to feel it again.
Overall, Decision to Leave despite being a Thriller, also is tender and romantic. It has an insurmountable performance from Wei that will not be forgotten. Additionally, it reminds us that love is unexpected, needed and selfless.
Decision to Leave screens at Cannes ’22:
Mon, May 23 at 6:00 PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Tue, May 24 at 8:30 AM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Tue, May 24 at 7:30 PM at SALLE AGNÈS VARDA
Tue, May 24 at 9:30 PM at LICORNE
Wed, May 25 at 9:30 AM at CINEUM IMAX
Thu, May 26 at 12:00 PM at CINEUM AURORE