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TIFF 2022 Review: Decision to Leave – “Not your typical love story”

A detective finds himself falling love with the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

A mountain climber is found to have plummeted to his death which raises suspicions of foul play.  On the case is a meticulous detective Hae-Jun (Park Hae-il) who is considered a rising star because of his remarkable ability to discover clues à la Sherlock Holmes and visualize events unfolding as if he was there; his imagination and fascination gets the best of him when investigating the domestically abused wife to the point that stakeouts send him down a rabbit hole of obsession that compromises his ability to assess things in an objective matter.  The murder suspect Seo-rae (Tang Wei) brings a different twist to the femme fatale as she is not impervious to emotions and finds herself unable to let go of her admirer.

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Style is never lacking in the visuals such as letting the imagination of his protagonist showcase his amazing deductive skills and growing infatuation.  Reflections, in particular ones involving mirrors, are part of a visual motif throughout.  The sound has a flare whether it be breathing or hearing a voice from a translation app and the editing is seamless as the scenes and shots flow into one another.  Technically the South Korean filmmaker is as solid as Alfred Hitchcock whom he is emulating in his Vertigo-inducing narrative that has enough twists and reveals that nothing is for certain.

Humour is not lacking often at the expense of Hae-Jun’s bumbling partner and a clever moment is when the suspect helps to solve a case by providing some necessary female insight into the dynamics and motivations of romantic relationships.  Despite the growing instinctual attraction, the primary focus is demonstrating the ramifications rather than crescendoing to a major sexual escapade, though a kiss does get shared.  The decision is a wise one as the imagination is far more powerful than the physical act.  This is definitely not your typical love story but you would not expect anything less from Park Chan-wook.

The 47th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8-18, 2022, and for more information visit tiff.net.    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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