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Review: Decision to Leave

[The following review contains MINOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]

In addition to being a dedicated police officer, the protagonist of Decision to Leave is an amateur cook, preparing a variety of meals for his wife (who he visits only on weekends, due to their conflicting work schedules). In one of the film’s many subtly seductive scenes, he serves the murder suspect that he’s investigating a dish that he hopes will appeal to her Chinese background—and while it doesn’t quite hit the mark, she still savors every bite.

The movie’s director, Park Chan-wook, is likewise an accomplished chef, chopping, blending, mixing, stirring, and simmering familiar narrative ingredients to produce bold new cinematic recipes. This latest effort, for example, combines the voyeuristic obsession of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the insidious sensuality of Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, and the silent longing of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love into a deliciously suspenseful, darkly comic neo-noir thriller.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to discuss Decision to Leave in any greater detail; spoiling its labyrinthine twists and turns would be an unforgivable crime. Like Oldboy and The Handmaiden, its story constantly evolves at it unfolds, with each unpredictable revelation completely recontextualizing its plot—indeed, even its very genre.

Its pleasures are therefore best experienced firsthand.

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