Jake Sulpice


Decision to Leave

Watched on

Men stand atop a large, pillar-like mountain.

Maybe I went to Ipo to become one of your unresolved cases.

Park Chan-wook’s visionary brilliance in cinema is awe-inspiring, and I already went into this film with exceedingly high expectations after being blown away by Oldboy and The Handmaiden. Something about his distinctive storytelling is unlike any other director I’ve seen, and the way he weaves plotlines together is elite.

Decision to Leave, Chan-wook’s most recent work, is an awe-inspiring romantic thriller that knits a story of emotions with the breathtaking backdrop of South Korea’s natural landscape. Each frame is a visual delight, where lush terrain and ethereal sights unfold in a combination of colors and textures. A keen eye for detail meticulously sculpts every shot, framing intimate moments to evoke the most profound human emotions and making the viewer a quiet observer of the unfolding drama.

Song Seo-rae stands against a painted backdrop of waves.

The unique scene transitions truly set this film apart for me. Masterfully done, they guide you through time and space with seamless fluidity, creating a dreamlike narrative flow. You almost feel unsure whether each scene is past or present, but generally, the film is linear yet skips some lengths of time at points in an abrupt yet measured manner. The video editing, too, is a testament to the film’s craftsmanship. The expert hands behind the scenes have woven scenes, music, and emotions together, leaving no seams in the story’s fabric.

At its heart, Decision to Leave is a touching, engaging, and bewildering romance that immerses you in the characters’ lives. The love story unfolds not only between the protagonists but also between them and the surrounding world, using the environment as an essential storytelling device. It’s not exactly a relatable story, but it makes you feel love’s highs and lows, reminding you that love can be breathtaking, complex, and unpredictable, much like the mesmerizing landscapes. The ending leaves you feeling genuine empathy towards both main characters, as unbelievable as the plot can be, yet envelopes you in a world that challenges you to understand the puzzling mysteries of human emotion.

The moment you said you loved me, your love is over. The moment your love ends, my love begins.

Song Seo-rae looks down into a hole in the sand.