SEOUL (AFP) – Filmmaker Park Chan-wook, known for his ultra-violent thrillers that propelled South Korean cinema onto the world stage, is back with something quite different – a sober but deeply moving.
Decision To Leave comes after the global success of South Korean entertainment, including Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) and Netflix’s Squid Game (2021-present), and has been the highest-grossing domestic film in South Korea since its opening in June. 29.
It opens in Singapore on July 14.
It stars Chinese actress Tang Wei and South Korean actor Park Hae-il, who plays a detective investigating a man’s fatal fall from a mountain. He falls in love with the victim’s mysterious wife, whom he suspects of being the cause of her husband’s death.
The film has already won the Park Award for Best Director at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, which previously awarded him the Grand Prix for his 2003 cult classic revenge thriller Oldboy.
However, unlike many of his previous works, Decision To Leave contains almost no adult or graphically violent scenes. IndieWire called it “the most romantic film of the year (so far)”, while early critics hailed it as a beautifully rendered love story marked by elegance and restraint.
“I agree it’s a romantic movie and I wanted to make such a movie,” Park said in an interview with reporters in Seoul in June.
The 58-year-old began thinking about the project while working on the BBC English-language miniseries The Little Drummer Girl (2018), which is set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He found himself yearning to do something different – away from politics and strife.
“I wanted to make a pure film – pure in the sense that it’s true to the basics of cinema as an art form without anything other than the theme of love getting in the way,” he said. -he declares.
The result is a poetic exploration of time, loss and longing, combining Park’s signature lush cinematography with the gripping sexual tension that simmers between the well-mannered detective and the seductive murder suspect.
Both characters are a departure from Park’s previous more extreme personas – such as the repressed Catholic priest-turned-vampire in the horror film Thirst (2009) and a man held captive for 15 years in Oldboy.
The director has previously said that the love stories, much like his bloody revenge stories, reveal how “essentially human beings are.”