Park Chan-wook’s Determination to Depart – The Brooklyn Rail

Park Chan-wook
Determination to Depart
(Moho Movie, 2022)

A collection of off-screen gunshots fireplace over the opening credit of Park Chan-wook’s much-anticipated Determination to Depart (2022). Then, two detectives seem, musing over their lack of homicide circumstances whereas at a firing vary. This deceptive suggestion of violence, paired with the speedy verbal clarification that there truly isn’t any, serves as a witty meta commentary on the place of Determination to Depart inside Park’s filmography—which boasts a beneficiant quantity of ghastly violence. In actual fact, Park and his longtime screenwriting companion Chung Website positioning-kyung discover the unknowability of the opposite as a theme by utilizing a collection of defied expectations because the movie’s narrative engine. Particularly, Park and Chung are desirous about how language—in addition to totally different modes of communication such because the iPhone—can mediate the unknowable.

The significance of language in Determination to Depart is clear from the get-go when Website positioning-rae (Tang Wei), a Chinese language caretaker, is known as in to determine her deceased husband Ki Do-soo (Yoo Seung-mok) at a forensic lab after he was discovered lifeless within the mountains. Hae-jun (Park Hae-il), the married detective assigned to the case, is bowled over by Website positioning-rae’s barely picket however nonetheless fluent Korean when she mutters “finally.” Hae-jun requests that his work companion Soo-wan (Go Kyung-pyo) use elementary Korean to obviously relay info relating to an post-mortem process to Website positioning-rae. Amusingly, his request implies that Soo-wan ought to use as few Sino-Korean phrases, the familiarity indicating one’s proficiency in Korean. Hae-jun is assured that the intelligible and exact alternate of knowledge will lead him to the reality with out fail.

It doesn’t take lengthy earlier than Hae-jun learns that he has falsely assumed Website positioning-rae’s unfamiliarity with Sino-Korean vocabulary. His puzzlement solely grows when he finds the proof that Do-soo had dedicated home violence in opposition to Website positioning-rae. Whereas he understands that Website positioning-rae married Do-soo out of practicality—securing her residential allow in Korea—he’s unable to understand why she put up with the cruelty. The thriller surrounding Website positioning-rae quickly turns his mere curiosity right into a romantic obsession. Throughout one interrogation, Website positioning-rae informs the detective that she prefers the ocean to the mountain. He, too, is drawn to the ocean, and by extension, to the lady whose form always disintegrates and comes collectively ephemerally. Decided to unravel the item of his want, the detective tails her and scrutinizes her from afar—not not like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo (1958) and Rear Window (1954). As if to treatment the inadequacy of verbal interviews as an investigative software, Hae-jun wields his iPhone, Apple Watch, and polygraph in his try to infiltrate what he perceives to be her genuine self.

Love presents itself like a home of mirrors in Determination to Depart. Misunderstandings and miscommunications lurk in each nook of Hae-jun’s and Website positioning-rae’s forbidden relationship. One night time, Hae-jun manages to file Website positioning-rae’s poetic Chinese language monologue addressed to a stray cat she takes care of. When run by a translation software program, the top of her speech is rendered in Korean as follows: “carry me the center [as in the organ] of that sort detective.” She later corrects the software program error by clarifying that what she meant was his emotions. The Chinese language phrase 心 (xīn) means each issues in Korean. As soon as the police conclude that Do-soo has died in an unlucky accident and shut the case, Hae-jun and Website positioning-rae share many intimate moments outdoors the confines of the police-suspect dynamic. At one level, he tells her, “I at all times do my finest to see issues as they’re,” and in that second, he appears satisfied that he sees Website positioning-rae for who she is. Nonetheless, the romantic bliss seems to be painfully temporary attributable to a improvement within the case that raises the detective’s suspicion of Website positioning-rae’s affection all through the investigation. But once more, she is an unknowable different who, in Hae-jun’s estimation, has feigned her affection to undermine the investigation.

Throughout a later investigation involving Website positioning-rae, Hae-jun retains “mistaking” her blue costume for a inexperienced one. Her costume is in reality turquoise, so Hae-jun’s confusion is comprehensible. Extra crucially although, in outdated Korean—the type that Website positioning-rae speaks—the phrase “blue” denotes each blue and inexperienced. Even as we speak, it’s not unusual for some younger Korean millennials to confer with inexperienced visitors lights because the “blue” mild. On this sense, Hae-jun’s confusion signifies that, maybe involuntarily, he tries to reflect Website positioning-rae by seeing the world by her peculiar use of Korean. For the primary time, Hae-jun withdraws himself from the place of an authority determine presiding over a linguistic panopticon, and places himself in Website positioning-rae’s footwear. Language is, as Martin Heidegger notes in Letter on Humanism, “the home of being.” Solely when Hae-jun mirrors Website positioning-rae’s Korean, does language let him into her “home,” and foster intimacy and a real understanding between them.

Simply as Scottie pursues Madeleine with maddening obsession in Vertigo, Hae-jun, too, chases after Website positioning-rae within the movie’s ultimate act. At one level, Website positioning-rae tells Hae-jun a couple of compromising voice memo of him saying “I like you.” “When did I say that?” Hae-jun asks. Website positioning-rae responds in Mandarin, “My love started when yours got here to an finish,” earlier than hanging up on him. The change to the native tongue in her ultimate second is indicative of her resolute dedication to take her destiny into her personal palms. It additionally means that she would reasonably stay unknown to Hae-jun than to be “understood.” As a lot as language can talk and elucidate info, it could additionally obscure and warp. Determination to Depart illustrates for us how language can each nurture and sever intimacy with horrifying effectivity.

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