Review: Decision to Leave

Jang Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) is a detective investigating the death of a man who fell off the top of a cliff. He begins to suspect the late man's wife, a Chinese immigrant to Korea, Seo-rae. (Tang Wei) In following her, he becomes infatuated.

Park Chan-wook's latest is currently streaming on Mubi, a service that I normally don't subscribe to, but went for a free trial just to view this. It's also South Korea's submission for Best International Feature at the Oscars, so I knew I had to check it out. Having enjoyed all of Park's work in the past, I had high hopes.

At the heart of Decision to Leave is a murder mystery, and those I can't get enough of. That part of the film was very engaging, but I had a hard time buying the romance the film was supposed to be selling. Hae-joon becomes infatuated with Seo-rae. He has a perfectly good wife at home, but he falls for her. She eventually reciprocates these feelings in her own way, and I never once believed any of it. The two actors, while very good just didn't have any chemistry together. No spark, no banter, at most I bought half hearted curiosity between the two, and because of that I didn't love this as much as I wanted to.

It's a well crafted film and I'm glad it's available for so many to watch, but I needed more from the leads. It's a bit of a bummer South Korea chose to submit this over the wonderful Broker, where the leads oozed chemistry together.

I still think it's worth your time and watch, but I had higher hopes Park considering I've loved every film I've seen of his. 

Grade: B-


  1. I did enjoy this as it was different from Park's other films in terms of its lack of gory and intense violence as it was also more accessible than I thought it would be. Its ending was devastating to watch.

    1. That's true, after watching more of his films on Mubi it did feel different, but I didn't love it as much as I expected to.


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