One of the most distinctive features of Park Chan-Wook’s characters is their pursuit—indeed their obsession—for the absolute, be it revenge or love. In his latest masterpiece, Decision to Leave, Park depicts a desperate love tale between an insomniac police detective and the mysterious bewitching widow of one of his cases; a forbidden love which leads to her suicide and his mental and emotional destruction. Similarly to his previous work, Park’s characters come to life through their obsession for the forbidden, a lusting trait which marks their inevitable demise. The world of Decision to Leave is built upon this premise, where cinematography, montage, scenario and dialogue come together to reflect and represent the characters connections and disconnections.
Park’s plot guides us through an apparent deepening passion between the two main characters, yet the subtlety of the visual elements around them are a constant reminder of their underlying misconnection. During Hae-jun’s first interrogation of Seo-rae, for example, Park portrays the hidden interest the two have for one another by introducing a mirror in the background of the shot. Through the composition and unnatural focus pulls between the characters and their reflections, Park silently gives shape to their thoughts, guiding us through the intimate bond that secretly forms between them and giving us a glimpse towards the tragic culmination of their love.
Obsession thus becomes the reflection of absolute love, and the blurred space that divides the two is narratively evoked through a hauntingly tragic love story. With this, Park once again gives a heart to our most forbidden desires.

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