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Park Chan-wook’s new movie premiers at Cannes Film Festival

Park Chan-wook’s new movie premiers at Cannes Film Festival

Posted May. 25, 2022 08:07,   

Updated May. 25, 2022 08:07


Director Park Chan-wook has returned with his new movie “Decision to Leave” six years after “The Handmaiden.” Movie fans and tourists gathered in front of the Lumière Theater in Cannes, where Park’s new film was being premiered at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on Monday (local time). “Park Chan-wook is the best director, who knows how to give a twist to social phenomenon in a stylish manner,” said Annabelle Puder, an office worker, who was looking for a ticket to Park’s movie holding a sign that read, “Decision to Leave” in Korean.

The 2,000-seat theater was filled with audiences from all over the world dressed in tuxedos and dresses. The “Decision to Leave,” Park’s fourth film at Cannes, was completely different from his previous films. The South Korean director beloved by Cannes said during a press conference with South Korean reporters on Sunday that his new film can be a bit bland compared to his previous works as it is not as sensational, adding he wanted to make an elegant, classic movie.

The film centers around the relationship between detective Hae-jun (played by Park Hae-il) and Chinese woman Seo-rae (played by Tang Wei). When Seo-rae’s husband dies from falling off a cliff, Hae-jun launches an investigation, identifying Seo-rae as a prime suspect. Seo-rae is unfazed by her husband’s death. “I was worried if (my husband) didn’t come home from the mountains. I was afraid he would finally die,” said Seo-rae in awkward Korean. As proven in the 2007 film, “Lust, Caution,” Tang Wei plays the character with that mysterious look. Her acting that finely adjusts the level of tension with her eyes is one of the bests in the world. Hae-jun works undercover to monitor Seo-rae, but his gaze observing her through a telescope is more like close observation filled with concern and affection. Through the repeated use of zoom-in and zoom-out with unique camera angles, Park captured in detail how the relationship and the mentality of Hae-jun and Seo-rae changes.

The film, which deals with a murder case occurred in the mountains and the sea, unfolds in an unpredictable direction. As Park is called the “genius of mise-en-scène,” it clearly shows in the film that the director worked hard not to waste a single prop. The foggy atmosphere adds to the classic beauty of the film as if “A Journey to Mujin” by Kim Seung-ok was cinematized. Park emphasized “dignity” before the screening, saying, “I aimed to make a mature film.”

The film received mixed reviews from the audience. Some said the film was best in terms of cinematic aesthetics while other said the story was difficult to follow. “Every description in the movie was vivid and beautiful,” said David Litback, who works for a film studio in Los Angeles. “Everything came together in harmony.” A French audience Alto miller said, “Director Park’s mise-en-scène is one of the bests, but the film was complicated with too many plots and scenes. The story became harder to follow as it got to the end.”

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com