South Korean Master Park Chan-wook (Lady Vengeance) directs a Hitchcockian tale of obsession in the mode of “Vertigo” in “Decision to Leave.”
Though the plot is knotty with intricate narratives of past and present, the visual power is first rate and the story unfolds in a gorgeous tapestry all to emphasize a story of love, regret and madness.
Detective Jang Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) is a cop faced with numerous cases. When investigating the death of an immigration worker Ki Doo Soo, Hae-jun interviews his wife Seo-Rae (Tang Wei). The detective is mesmerized.
At a Buddhist temple the detective and Seo-Rae become closer. Hae-jun discloses that he suffers from serious insomnia. Seo-Rae has a secret cure involving breathing and this works.
Seo-Rae helps rid the detective of his workaholic ways, dispensing with old cases. Hae-jun becomes healthier but also grows obsessed with his love interest.
He stalks her and peers at her with binoculars.
The detective tries on several occasions to distance himself. He is married but Seo-Rae always shows up at a shopping center or in between Hae-jun’s errands.
Then the detective learns of Seo-Rae’s sinister past. She killed her mother.
Though anguished, Hae-jun is more enamored than ever.
The detective is driven by a compulsion that is hard to define.
Though the plot is a Gordian knot within a Rubik’s cube with numerous fugues and dream sequences, the noir darkness is well expressed with a few madcap elements to keep you compelled.
Park Hae-il is wonderful as the strangely passive and morose cop and Tang Wei is outstanding as the capricious Femme Fatale on par with Kim Novak’s Madeline.
The film is outstanding in terms of color. The richness of turquoise reveals itself in a sea of blazing incarnadine red. What starts as a Hitchcock tale of anxiety and paranoia blends into an Edgar Allan Poe lament of thwarted love.
Some viewers may feel intimidated by the film’s causes and effects into various pasts, but if you stick with it, the film dazzles the eye. “Decision to Leave” is not really a thriller but its wild turns of happenstance and its forays into contrasting colors make it a solid compliment to Park Chan-wook’s iconic “Vengeance Trilogy.”
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