Decision to Leave

Date Showing

31st May 2023

Decision to leave poster02200Another stunning South Korean gem, Park Chan-wook won Best Director Award at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival for his wonderful ‘Decision to Leave’ (2022), a sublime Hitchcockian thriller. Following his excellent ‘The Handmaiden’, also previously seen at Cinematheque, is this seductive, contemporary tale of a policeman getting a little too close to the murder he is trying to solve.
    Hae-joon is a happily married detective investigating the mysterious death of a climber, when suspicion falls on the man’s entrancing young wife, Seo-rae. Even as her alibi clears her, Hae-joon is unable to end his surveillance. Is this a detective’s intuition or something more? As he digs deeper into the investigation he finds himself immersed in a web of deception and desire for this enigmatic femme fatale. Is she genuine, or cleverly manipulating him through one twisting story turn after another? Drawing on such films as ‘The Big Sleep’ (1946)to ‘Basic Instinct’ (1992), and ‘Vertigo’ (1958) to ‘House of Flying Daggers’ (2004), using such an internationally familiar theme helps break down cultural barriers enabling universal appeal.
   With two ultra-charismatic leading actors, Park Chan-wook has crafted an ingeniously plotted mesmeric mystery, where quick-fire scenes drive the narrative, but also leave the viewer guessing at the precise meaning and significance of complex images and intricacies of the plot details. This is a visually beautiful intelligent film from a director working at the peak of his powers, and one not to be missed. ***** The Guardian, ‘Sensational’ The Daily Telegraph, ‘Sumptuous….an intoxicating spell’ Total Film Magazine.

Audience Reactions

A: 10, B: 10, C: 09, D: 05, E: 02


A: Intriguing, captivating, fascinating and original! (A) Fascinating – Riveting to the end! With a great sense of humour also!( A) Very good. A little too long! Fascinating (A) This was a perfect example of why I love foreign cinema. A little over long but produced in a different way from British/American films. The plot was outside the box, an interesting & moving plot. (A) Great film. (A) Strange, but in a good way. Intriguing, Brilliant ending – leaving him with her meaning resolved but her death/dying unresolved * i.e this letting go free was for her, saying he loved her. (A)

B: Very good cinema but a little long and complex. (B) Confusing, funny, entertaining (B) Memorable mix of love and murder (B) Exhilarating strange & very modern, in a good way (B) Intriguing engaging. Sometimes I was baffled as if I were in the mist. Love blinds us? (B) Complex – obscurity, ambiguity – humour, suicide. (very Japanese) (B) Very interesting to look at but…. the subtitles were too far away and far too fast. (B)

C: Pretty strange and confusing – but enjoyable too. And funny! Amusing (C) Intriguing but too long. (C) Funny (C) Rather weird and too long..but it just about got there in the end! (C) Not understood but enjoyed (C) Struggled to follow a lot of it. (C) Mysterious – hard to follow – atmospheric, full of layering (C)

D: Visually accomplished, did not engage me, inaccessible (D) Too long. Long credits too. (D)

E: Incomprehensible (E) Self-Indulgent hogwash (E) Jeez – what was going on! (E) Don’t think I have ever watched such an odd strange film. (E)

IMDB details

Decision to Leave | October 21, 2022 (United States) 7.3


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Jang Hae-joon
Song Seo-rae
Granny Hae-dong
Ki Do-soo
Lee June
Hong San-o
Oh Ga-in
Lee G-goo
Lim Ho-shin

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Countries: South KoreaLanguages: Korean, Chinese, EnglishBudget: $10,000,000 (estimated)


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