Confucius said, “The wise love the water, the benevolent the mountains.” These lines from Decision to Leave establish the film’s philosophy. The relationship between a widow, who is suspected for her husband’s killing, and a detective is at the core of the film’s plot. They have a really peculiar, enigmatic and yet extremely natural relationship. Nature defies all logic and is ungoverned. Nature only functions in harmony. So their relationship, like nature, defies logic, but there is a harmony about it. Rhythm is really crucial in the story, which is why Park Chan-wook communicates through several match cuts and transitions. Even the music and certain voice-overs are cleverly combined to match the film’s pulse.
As a mysterious woman with some strange motivations, Tang Wei as Seo-rae ( the widow) excels in her performance. Her role serves as the film’s catalyst. Park Hae-il does a great job portraying a detective who is obsessed with unsolved cases. When the two opposing egos clash, we experience calm and harmony rather than mayhem. Though there is some anticipation and tension to it. The melancholy finale will have a lasting impression on you. Mist is also another force of nature that is prominently featured in the film, along with mountains and seas.
“The moment you said you loved me, your love is over. The moment your love ends, my love begins.” You’ll somehow remember these lines and become perplexed. You’re looking for any explanation or justification for this peculiar love story. Your mind attempts to solve the puzzle but fails. However, Confucius said, “I seek not to know the answers, but to understand questions” thus you are not needed to.
Decision to Leave has a lot of metaphors and is quite mysterious. A basic background of Chinese philosophy can help you understand the theme better. Nonetheless, the story of human relationships in it will undoubtedly resonate with you in a variety of ways. It is an artfully constructed film that uses metaphors of Chinese philosophy to illustrate human nature and its unpredictable character.