“Decision To Leave”

(South Korea)

Metacritic (7/10), Rotten Tomatoes (***+), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), MUBI.com (3/5)

The key to making a good thriller is to offer an intriguing, twist-filled story but not one that becomes so convoluted that it becomes indecipherable. And that’s where writer-director Park Chan-wook’s latest comes precariously close to losing it. Mind you, the picture manages to keep itself from careening over the edge, but, in its valiant attempt to offer something more than just a prototypical suspense saga, it introduces a wide range of elements that can make following the flow of the narrative somewhat challenging at times. That’s further complicated by a screenplay that tends to jump around more than it needs to, especially in the opening half-hour during that critical phase where the movie is establishing itself. Thankfully, those rough patches get smoothed out as the story goes on, enabling the film to ultimately live up to its thriller designation, even if it takes a little longer than it probably needs to in doing so. Still, this tale of a detective investigating a possible homicide who becomes obsessed with the victim’s widow (a prime suspect in the case) serves up a generally compelling yarn whose title is ably reflected in many of the picture’s diversely interwoven story threads. It’s also refreshing to see a film in this genre play itself out with an ample amount of offbeat humor and inventive camera work, something all too infrequently included in pictures of this stripe. Nevertheless, “Decision To Leave” could have used a little more fine-tuning to make it work more effectively and more truly deserving of the many awards and accolades it has received thus far. It’s a fun watch with some intriguing elements that distinguish it from its peers, but it’s not quite everything it could be as movies in this genre go.