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  • Writer's pictureEugene

Decision to Leave (2022)

Imagine a film called Decision To Leave, when much of the audience voted with their feet half way through.  As one of our discussion group said, this was probably our most controversial RCC film.


A big problem was the subtitles. Sometimes they weren’t there at all, even at key plot moments when mobile phone messages were shown. Many a time the subtitles were quite bizarre. Why was Song Seo-rae called Riley and occasionally Ralai? Yes, this ralai, ralai riled us.  Some subtitles were accompanied by a string of mysterious numbers and the timing of the film so far.


Our discussion group liked the design, the locations and the music (although the jury was out on the cliched use of Mahler).  We appreciated the background teal wallpaper more than Park Chan-wook’s screenplay and characterisation. Maybe it was our hang-ups.  Despite the Best Director award at Cannes, the “nod to detective tropes” and the “far-fetched plot” left many of us unconvinced.


The theme of communication didn’t communicate. The language differences between a Chinese woman and Korean man would chime more with an Asian audience, so we missed a key element of Seo-rae and Hae-joon’s ambiguous relationship. However, compare this with the subtlety and beauty of our previous Korean film, Celine Song’s Past Lives. This delicate, authentic film said more in a moment and a glance about culture and connection than this one did in well over two hours.


The violence, especially against women, was not to everyone’s taste. Not everyone sees ‘breathtakingly violent” as a good thing, unlike some reviewers.


Some of our discussion group helped put the themes into context. Food was an interesting one. Our discussion leader watched Park Chan-wook’s oeuvre in preparation, taking more than one for the team. Thankfully he didn’t need eye-drops afterwards, unlike Hae-joon.


We agreed that this was not an easy film. It was suggested it should be watched twice but I’d rather have a snapping turtle bite my finger.


It was challenging. The plot was dense. The ending was uncertain. Thankfully it came.


Anne      09:48   6842739476-4672274053


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Tanya Griffiths
Tanya Griffiths
Feb 18

Well summarised Anne with some great puns. Sadly I missed out on the tasty Korean buns as they sold out in seconds.


Jeanne Pope
Jeanne Pope
Feb 18

Thank you for your very funny, tongue-in-cheek review. Strangely, as I was about to nod off, I began to enjoy the maddening way this film turned around, very much like Mulholland Drive, which leads us everywhere and finally nowhere, a film I have never understood. What I mostly appreciated were all the layers. The underlying theme of deep unhappiness in a couple, and finally, fatally, falling in love with the wrong person. Once the love is declared other layers unravel. Deep symbolic layers, such as the snapper turtle which is the symbol of strength and long life. The Octopus hanging in the fish market scene is wisdom, mystery, and transformation, the fish being cut, also symbolises change and transformation, while…

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