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Quick Review: Decision To Leave
The Closer You Look, The Harder You Fall
The following is my review for the film Decision To Leave. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I score films when I review them.
Hae-Joon, a seasoned detective, investigates the suspicious death of a man on a mountaintop. Soon, he begins to suspect Seo-rae, the deceased’s wife, while being unsettled by his attraction to her.
Park Chan-wook may be in contention for being the most famous Director from South Korea with classic and revered Korean films like 2003’s Oldboy and 2016’s The Handmaiden in his catalog. Now we get his latest in Decision To Leave which left the Cannes Film festival with great reviews and a Best Director award. Its easily ended up becoming one of the biggest contenders from the international field to compete for Oscars.
Seeing it as a double feature for the day alongside the other major international player All Quiet On The Western Front, I came away generally liking the movie and yet feeling underwhelmed as well.
Its by no means a bad movie. The work that is put into the techs in this film are nothing short of incredible. Chan-wook’s direction is almost flawless, the cinematography is breathtaking, and the fact the performances from Park Hae-il as our protagonist Detective Hae-jun and Tang Wei as the film’s femme fatale aren’t frontrunners for Oscar nominations is a crime.
The movie had me ready to give this an 8 or 9 score through about two-thirds of it. It sets everything up with various different camera shots and use of modern technology to create a fascinating modern noir film. The script allows for plenty moments of levity that helps to ease the tension with certain scenes. It really is an enjoyable watch and I can see why this is a movie that is going to show up in various “Best of” lists and might even get a Best Picture nod come Oscars nominations’ morning.
But where the movie really started to lose me a bit is in its third act. There’s some really frustrating decisions with certain story beats as the film starts to wrap things up that I can’t go too much into detail with given they would be heavy spoilers. But I found myself going from fascinated and in awe of this modern noir that Chan-wook was weaving and then just getting annoyed with where the film decided to take various subplots and what it did with certain characters.
In the end Decision To Leave is an impressively made film and I can respect why its become such a beloved movie of the year for so many. But I just wish the level of enjoyment I was having two-thirds in didn’t get spoiled by a third act that I just wasn’t vibing with as much. Its an enjoyable movie, but the decisions it makes with its final act keep it from being a great one for me.