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Shuswap Film Society: Park Chan-wook movie Decision to Leave a love story/crime drama

Cinemaphile by Joanne Sargent
Decision to Leave shows at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26 at the Salmar Classic. (Contributed)

By Joanne Sargent

Special to the Observer

Korea’s next biggest cinematic export since Parasite.

That’s how Entertainment Weekly described this Saturday’s Shuswap Film Society movie, Decision to Leave. Selected by South Korea as its official entry for best Foreign International Feature at the 2023 Oscars, the movie premiered at Cannes in May where Park Chan-wook was named best director.

A man falls to his death from a mountain. Police inspector Hae-jun, a gentle man, happily married and devoted to his work, is called to the scene: an aging climber, a businessman, has been found dead at the base of a cliff he’s traversed many times. It seems an open and shut case, an unfortunate accident. But they must rule out suicide – or even homicide.

As Hae-jun investigates, the climber’s widow, Seo-rae, a Chinese immigrant, is called in for questioning about her husband, a much older man who, she says, exploited her immigrant vulnerability. She is definitely not, outwardly at least, devastated, showing very little emotion about the loss. Hae-jun begins to suspect Seo-rae, even as the ongoing interrogations become flirtatious and he finds himself attracted to her. Hae-jun performs nightly stakeouts outside her apartment and makes house calls to question her further while an illicit chemistry percolates between the two.

The detective story and the romance story co-exist and become one, and the tension builds because we’re not sure if Seo-rae is innocent or guilty. Hae-jun has a growing suspicion that this brilliant woman might be toying with him, that the accidental death of her husband may not be what it initially seemed. But their only hope for a future together depends on them leaving the past unsolved.

An exceptional love story and multi-layered crime-drama, Decision to Leave shows at 5 p.m. (back to the regular time) Saturday, Nov. 26 at the Classic.

Read more: Trio of gems scheduled for Shuswap Film Society’s upcoming Mini Film Fest
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