Thursday, October 13, 2022

Unsolved Mystery

Decision to Leave (2022) - Park Screen Shot 2022-10-12 at 3.31.29 PM Screen Shot 2022-10-12 at 4.43.44 PM Screen Shot 2022-10-12 at 4.08.52 PM Screen Shot 2022-10-13 at 7.59.18 AM Screen Shot 2022-10-13 at 8.09.22 AM It is very hard for me to surrender myself into the Park Chanwook universe. It's because I've always regarded him as a visual stylist more than anything and can't help being self-conscious when I watch his films, that I am indeed watching a film, a make-believe, a fake. His every-over-the-top plot twist, every elaborate set piece, always reminds me that I am staring at the silver screen. Then it is perhaps the first time that I bought into the seductiveness of Decision to Leave, his sumptuous, yet down to earth film noir starring a luminous Chinese actress Tang Wei as the recipient of a Hitchcock heroine like obsession. Don't get me wrong, all his unrivaled trademark craftmanship is there - rapturous transition shots, highly textured production design, artful framing, etc. But it's Tang Wei's embodiment of her character, Seo-rae, a mysterious woman in foreign land that is truly the main magnetic pull here.

Detective Park (Park Hae-il of Memories of Murder) oversees investigating the death of an old rock climber in mysterious circumstances. The widow is a young Chinese woman, Seo-rae (Tang), who works at a nursing home. The focus of the investigation naturally falls on her, a young trophy wife of an old man who worked at an immigration office with a large sum life insurance. Even though she has an alibi, Park can't shake off the feeling that she is hiding something. It's more of a curiosity than suspicion. It's her beauty, and her foreignness that keeps him interested. So even after she is cleared of any suspicion in the death of her husband, he keeps surveilling her. Since he is seeing his nagging wife only on weekends because of work, Seo-rae becomes his almost companion, even from a distance. She obviously knows that she is being watched and keep their cat and mouse game going.

after she is officially cleared and the death ruled as suicide, for Park, it is over and done with. But for Seo-rae, it is just the beginning in an elaborate game to continue seeing him, at whatever the cost, because she wants to be the kind policeman's unsolved case, getting all his attention, at all times.

In Park's hand, our mundane everyday technology - smartphone, smartwatch, Bluetooth, etc., becomes something sensual, ASMR and highly hypnotic.

Once again, being a suspect of her 'next husband' murder, it culminates to Seo-rae meeting with Park on the top of a mountain. It's snowing, and their faces only illuminated by a headlamp, Park experiences Scotty's 'green dress' moment in Vertigo. Only it's the heroine who is actively making Scotty reaching ecstasy, in her own volition.

Decision to Leave's intricate plot, clever wordplays, sheer amount of visual details might be way too much to catch all in one viewing. It's so impeccably crafted and executed, yet relatively down to earth, huge thanks to Tang Wei's turn as a seductress. It's the most romantic film I've seen this year.

1 comment:

  1. Have you thought about writing a zack snyder justice league movie review?