Features and Columns · Movies

How “Decision to Leave” Weaponizes Misdirection

Every director gets to make a Hitchcock.
Decision To Leave
By  · Published on January 27th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores how Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave weaponizes misdirection.

As our own Anna Swanson put it after we caught Decision to Leave at TIFF, “every director gets to make a Hitchcock.”

To be perfectly clear, this is a compliment. Especially given that Park Chan-wook has made a film that would make good ole’ Hitch vibrate in his chair like a jackhammer. Decision to Leave follows Hae-Jun (Park Hae-il), an obsessive, insomniac police detective who finds himself on the case of a peculiar murder case. The prime suspect? Song Seo-rae (Tang Wei), the deceased’s wife. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game of stolen glances, sushi-based flirting, and the occasional dash of violence.

In the abject bloodbath that is Park Chan-wook’s filmography, Decision to Leave is easily the director’s most “mundane” film. But don’t get it twisted. As the video essay below outlines, all those deceptively quiet moments hide delicious mysteries that only unfold fully on a repeat viewing. After all, we’re seeing things from Hae-Jun’s perspective. And as observant as he is, the big picture never quite comes into focus.

Speaking of which, the following video essay will be more rewarding if you’ve already seen the film. (And hey, look at that, Decision to Leave is streaming on Mubi as we speak). Consider yourselves warned: spoilers ahead.

Watch “Decision to Leave | Misdirection Done Right”

Who made this?

This video essay on how Decision to Leave uses misdirection is by Spikima Movies, a Korean-Canadian who’s been dropping gems on YouTube since 2019. You can subscribe to Spikima’s channel for more incredible essays here. And you can follow them on Letterboxd here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).