Halfway via Park Chan-wook’s newest movie Decision to Leave, Inspector Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) makes his case. He explains intimately how Chinese language immigrant Music Website positioning-rae (Tang Wei) secretly tailed her abusive husband on a mountaineering journey and waited for him to achieve the summit. Whereas he took within the view, unaware that he wasn’t alone, Website positioning-rae lunged ahead and pushed her husband to the bottom, overlaying up the homicide as a suicide.
Hae-jun’s evaluation is obvious, his argument sound. To listen to him inform it, there’s little question that Website positioning-rae murdered her husband. There’s only one drawback: he makes his claims neither in a police station nor in a courthouse, however in Website positioning-rae’s house, the place his assertion takes on the standard of a confession of affection.
“I used to be a proud policeman,” Hae-jun confesses, his trembling voice nearly muffled by composer Jo Yeong-wook’s melancholy rating. “However after going loopy for a lady, I ruined an investigation,” he begins, earlier than pausing lengthy sufficient for Park’s digital camera to zoom nearer to his face. “Now I’m utterly shattered.”
The scene’s South Korean setting could be unfamiliar to American viewers, however the situation is just not. Noir movies, outdated and new, have lengthy mined the thought of a as soon as upright detective introduced low by a femme fatale, an alluring girl whose involvement complicates a case. From classics akin to The Huge Warmth and Vertigo to erotic thrillers like Primary Intuition, noir movies clearly perceive the corruption inherent in essentially the most upright officer of the regulation. However as he’s carried out in films akin to Oldboy, The Handmaiden, and his English-language Hitchcock riff Stoker, Park mixes genres and tones to kind stunning concoctions, making Determination to Go away into a strong story of police corruption.
Constructing as much as Hae-jun’s confession, Park performs the occasions comparatively straight. Hae-jun acts as a prototypical good detective, who spends his weeks doing police work within the massive metropolis of Busan and his weekends within the quiet hamlet Ipo, the place he lives along with his sensual and scientifically-minded spouse Jung-an (Lee Jung-hyun). Together with his capability to channel his power insomnia into ceaseless stakeouts, Hae-jun has developed a status for thoroughness in his division, commanding such respect that few initially discover when he devotes extra time than essential to investigating a strong lifeless man’s fairly younger widow.
Whereas this mingling of crime and romance plots reveals the strict policeman to be a essentially fallible particular person, it additionally underscores the issues inherent in police work.
Even these new to Park’s work can sense a shift coming, as Hae-jun’s rationalization of Website positioning-rae’s guilt comes too simply and too early, failing to account for occasions we viewers witnessed earlier within the film. However the place some would possibly count on the film to turn into much more of a heated thriller, Determination to Go away takes on a extra languid tone, pushing to the fore the romantic longing implicit within the film’s first half. The frenetic enhancing that marked the film’s first hour offers option to longer pictures and tighter holds on characters’ faces. Fingers tentatively attain for one another, sorrow follows sudden reminiscences, and companions discover their spouses’ unusual behaviors.
As transferring as these moments actually are, Park by no means divorces them from the central police plot. No matter else Hae-jun and Website positioning-rae could want to be to at least one one other, they continue to be, essentially, individuals in a homicide investigation. Website positioning-rae admits as a lot when, in her restricted Korean, she asks to be Hae-jun’s “suspect,” somebody he always watches.
Whereas this mingling of crime and romance plots reveals the strict policeman to be a essentially fallible particular person, it additionally underscores the issues inherent in police work. Hae-jun begins the film as a trusted investigator, somebody whose powers of commentary and eager thoughts make him an efficient crime fighter. Whereas apprehending a assassin in Busan, Hae-jun makes use of his wits to disarm the suspect, stopping the person’s suicide to convey him to justice. He even chastises his youthful accomplice for threatening to beat the suspect, demanding that these beneath his command maintain their integrity.
However even when exhibiting an officer working by the ebook, Determination to Go away reminds viewers of the huge energy positioned within the palms of fallible folks. All through the film, we observe Hae-jun on stakeouts, the place he sits in his automotive and friends into Website positioning-rae’s house via binoculars, recording his ideas on a smartwatch. These scenes start with Website positioning-rae and Hae-jun separated by huge distances. Then they instantly reduce to a brand new composition, with the inspector standing within the suspect’s house, his voice distorted as he narrates her every day routine, unaware that she’s being surveilled.
Park makes use of an analogous approach when visualizing flashbacks, as Website positioning-rae’s reminiscences start as cutaways to her youthful self talking along with her mom in China or coping with her husband. However as Hae-jun turns into enraptured by Website positioning-rae’s story, he seems within the scene, watching the occasions as they’re narrated to him. Likewise, when Hae-jun describes the previous, even that of Website positioning-rae, he seems within the flashback as a secret observer. So when Hae-jun lays out his case towards Website positioning-rae, describing the steps she took to kill her husband, he seems within the scene as effectively, watching what the character can solely see in his thoughts’s eye.
To make certain, Park’s method humanizes the characters, even the “proud policeman.” However with its heavy use of surveillance know-how, the film additionally insists that police have disproportionate energy to implement their will.
Past their class, scenes akin to these remind viewers of the subjective nature of the tales we’re advised. The usual flashback construction utilized by most filmmakers merely reveals us occasions of the previous, suggesting that we see them kind of as they really occurred. However when Hae-jun seems within the scene, we can’t escape his subjectivity. His presence reminds viewers that we see that previous not because it was, however as it’s understood by Hae-jun.
Ever the style alchemist, Park refuses to play any facet of the film straight, making the most of the ambiguities within the characters’ views and motivations. Hae-jun and Website positioning-rae could genuinely be falling for each other, or they might use one another for their very own ends, or some mixture of each. Buried within the sea of reminiscence and manipulation, the reality stays inaccessible, least of all to the viewers.
To make certain, Park’s method humanizes the characters, even the “proud policeman” Hae-jun. He’s as simply as prone as anybody else to emotions, misunderstandings, and lapses in judgment. However with its heavy use of surveillance know-how, the film additionally insists that police have disproportionate energy to implement their will, a will motivated by those self same feelings.
As a romance story, Determination to Go away finds dignity in folks shattered by their incapacity to grasp their attraction to others. However as a noir movie, Determination to Go away reminds us that, in a state of fixed surveillance, proud policemen have the means to make their story the official story, no matter its relationship to the reality.