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MOVIES (LFF 2022): Decision to Leave - Review

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Park Chan-Wook's Decision to Leave is the most romantic police procedural that I've seen in recent memory and maybe the best police procedural full stop since Zodiac; Decision to Leave plunges us headfirst into a cat and mouse love triangle where a married cop falls hopelessly for a woman suspected of killing her husband. It's a testament to the sheer visual style of the director that this film looks like one of the best of the year from a visual perspective - stunning work from Kim Ji-yong captures the beauty of the night haunts occupied by Park Hae-il's Hae-Joon; an insomniac who thrives off murder cases.

It's a revealing mystery that gives you new clues each time the plot progresses, there's no time wasting here, one second we're out on the streets in a frantic chase sequence and the next we're in a small romantic apartment that has had so much work put into it by the production design team that it looks like a painting; Decision to Leave is aware of its surroundings every step of the way, jaw-dropping visual shots designed to leave you breathless occupy the narrative - a top-down view of the beach and the road leading up to it are a visual marvel; unparalleled in their feast for the eyes. It's Park Chan-Wook operating in his element, yet at the same time this is something that we haven't seen before from him - more romantic than Oldboy and more procedural than The Handmaiden.

Decision to Leave has five or six different endings and every one of them could have worked yet the ending it went with is the ending that I really liked. The chemistry between Tang Wei and Park Hae-il is near perfect - you buy them more than you do the other half their characters are in a relationship with, but then Decision to Leave revels around that romantic tension and it is sizzling. Sparks fly from the moment they meet yet the contrast between the two acts and it is very much a movie of two acts, couldn't be clearer. The romantic notions of love are stripped apart and laid bear in the second as more complex and nuanced ideas come into play; Decision to Leave feels like two films operating against each other - but in a way that only makes the collective whole completely rewarding.

Maybe Park Chan-Wook's weakest of what I've seen, but it's something that I left the screen thinking yes, I absolutely *NEED* to rewatch it.

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