A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains ends up meeting and developing feelings for the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.
Release date: October 14, 2022 (USA)
Director: Park Chan-woo
Cinematography: Ji-yong Kim
South Korea’s Park Chan-wook’s newest work has been selected as South Korea’s submission for the Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards, and Park Chan-wook won the Best Director Award, the Palme d’Or, at Cannes.
The film stars Park Hae-il (“Memories of Murder”) as police detective Hae-jun. While investigating the death of her husband , Hae-jun, who either fell or was pushed from atop a mountain he has just climbed, the detective becomes obsessed with the widow, Seo-ra, played by Chinese actress Tang Wei. Seo-ra. The detective learns that the beautiful widow helped her sick mother commit suicide and, as the film proceeds, her innocence becomes more and more dubious. As the screenplay puts it, “Killing is like smoking; only the first time is hard.” When her mother and her husbands begin dropping like flies, the detective and others are skeptical of Seo-ra’s innocence.
If I may stray from the plot for a moment, this film has more devotion to smoking up a storm than the film noir Bogart years. It reminded me how times have changed. I remember when smoking was considered “cool” and everyone savvy and in-the-know smoked. Given the fact that now we know how many serious illnesses are caused or exacerbated by smoking, I’ve read that Hollywood studios are currently faced with air brushing out the cigarettes in the hands of lead actors in films of that era, leaving them holding their hands in weird positions when the cigarettes, themselves, disappear.
There is also an emphasis in this film on modern-day technology, especially on cell phones and smart watches. Add in that age-old malady, insomnia, from which the lead investigator suffers, and “Decision to Leave” harkens back to the heavy influence of Alfred Hitchcock’s films on the young filmmaker.
As Katie Walsh of the “Tribune News Service” said in her piece on Director Park Chan-wook, “In its themes and style, the film pays tribute to the work of Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, whose “Vertigo” inspired Park Chan-wook, as a young film student and critic, to make his own films.”
The film runs 2 hours and 18 minutes and opened in theaters on October 14, 2022.