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#TIFF22 Review: Decision to Leave (Special Presentations)

September 12, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to 18th.

Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave is a puzzle box of a movie from the Korean master that offers a beguiling mix of murder mystery and romantic melodrama, tied together through brilliant editing and narrative choices.

The film follows Hae-jun (Park Hae-il), a married detective in Busan who is investigating the case of a mountain climber who fell to his death, in what could have been an accident or a suicide. But Hae-jun suspects a far more sinister cause of death, and views the man’s widow Seo-rae (Tang Wei), a Chinese immigrant, as the prime suspect. The investigation becomes more complicated by the feelings that start to develop between Hae-jun and Seo-rae, with him falling under her spell.

It is almost like two movies in one, with the first and second halves feeling somewhat distinctive but working to elevate each other. Park Chan-wook’s careful staging makes it all work together, as he weaves in flashbacks and big reveals into the film’s present day scenes, with help from Kim Sang-bum’s precise editing. This is a boldly structured piece of work that is assembled with the confidence of a master, with Park Chan-wook casting a darkly seductive spell over his audience, with help from Kim Ji-yong’s gorgeous cinematography and some striking stylistic flourishes.

The film is carried by excellent performances from Park Hae-il, who compellingly portrays the obsessive, meticulous detective, and Tang Wei, who is captivating as the femme fatale. In true Park Chan-wook fashion, Decision to Leave offers a classic mix of film noir, murder mystery, and illicit romance that evolves and reinvents itself as it goes along. It’s the sort of film that practically demands more than one viewing to fully absorb it all, but it builds to one hell of an ending that I haven’t really stopped thinking about since seeing the movie.

Public Screenings:

Monday, September 12th – 9:45 PM at VISA Screening Room at the Princess of Wales

Thursday, September 15th – 7:30 PM at Scotiabank 2

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