theriverjordan’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Decision to Leave” is the unholy union between the two halves of Park Chan-wook’s career.
Park’s early works romanticised violent delights. His most recent stretch of films has delighted in violent romanticism. “Decision to Leave” is a bond between the two.
Essentially, if Park loves murder so much, why doesn’t he just marry it? In “Decision,” he more or less… does.
The film is a detective romance; a genre that should very well not exist, except within the realm of perhaps some of his Korean cinema contemporaries. “Decision” follows an investigator tasked with solving a set of deaths (Murders? Suicides?) both mysteriously involving the same woman, a beautiful Chinese immigrant.
“Decision” is one of Park’s most narratively ambitious works, a noir plotted around multiple killings across years and locations. It’s a feat of plot cohesion that would hardly be conceivable by anyone less than a veteran director entirely in command of his craft.
Where Park’s “Oldboy” and “Stoker” minimized complexity of storytelling to emphasise visuals and aesthetics to stunning results, “Decision” maintains a lyricism of imagery, while not losing the viewer for a moment along its many hairpin curves of twists and revelations.
It is a result that reflects the psychologies of “Decisions” characters themselves. Why should a detective not dream of gentle jellyfish? And why should an average educated woman learning a second language not speak it in poetry?
In “Decision,” Park finally solves the missing piece between segments of his career. Love is all in execution.