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'Decision to Leave,' Cannes-winner Park Chan-wook‘s version of mature love

From left: Korean actor Park Hye-il, director Park Chan-wook and Chinese actor Tang Wei pose after a press conference for “Decision to Leave” held at Yongsan CGV on Tuesday. (CJ ENM)
From left: Korean actor Park Hye-il, director Park Chan-wook and Chinese actor Tang Wei pose after a press conference for “Decision to Leave” held at Yongsan CGV on Tuesday. (CJ ENM)


Cannes-winning director Park Chan-wook said his new film “Decision to Love” shows what he considers to be mature love between two adults.

“I started the movie thinking I would like to tell a story that only experienced people will understand,” the director said during a press conference at Yongsan CGV on Tuesday.

“When we are young, we show all our emotions and express them, but as we get older, due to different situations and circumstances, it is difficult to be honest about our feelings,” Park added.

Although “Decision to Leave” depicts the love story of two grown-ups, the director said he intentionally avoided including sex scenes to make the film more provocative.

“I told people I would make a love story about adults, and they immediately responded by saying, ‘it will be a movie with provocative scenes.’ That was when I decided to do exactly the opposite,” Park said.

Unlike Park‘s previous R-rated movies like “The Handmaiden” (2016), “Stoker” (2013), and “Thirst” (2009), “Decision to Leave” is rated PG 15.

While retaining Park’s unique cinematographic style and use of exotic, patterned wallpapers, the movie focuses on the emotions of the two protagonists-- Hye-jun (Park Hye-il) and Seo-rae (Tang Wei). Hye-jin is a hard-working police officer who looks into a suspicious death that occurred on a mountain. He comes to suspect the dead man‘s wife, the mysterious Seo-rae (Tang Wei), as being involved in the crime. As Hye-jun investigates Seo-rae, he becomes attracted to her.

Chinese actor Tang performs most of her scenes in Korean. Although her character, Seo-rae, is Chinese and speaks Korean with a Chinese accent, she is fluent and uses advanced vocabulary that she learned from watching Korean period dramas.

“To be honest, I don’t speak Korean at all,” Tang said. “I felt like I was hitting the wall when memorizing all the (Korean) lines to perform.”

Tang explained that filming this movie was challenging because when she “spoke” Korean, she had to think about the meaning in Chinese.

“It was amazing how she kept calm while so much was going on inside her head,” director Park added.

 
“Decision to Leave” directed by Park Chan-wook (CJ ENM)
“Decision to Leave” directed by Park Chan-wook (CJ ENM)


Co-star Park spoke about what it was like to work with such a renowned director for the first time.

“When filming scenes that had to capture the subtle emotions of my character, the director was very supportive of my decisions. So I had fun performing. I also learned a lot from working with Tang Wei,” he said.

After the screening at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, some suggested that the film has hints of Alfred Hitchcock about it. Park said he did not use Hitchcock‘s films as a direct reference, but his influence may be there.

“The films (of Hitchcock) are what I studied as a university student. So I thought it was funny because his films seem to have been embedded in my blood,” Park said.

The director, who watched the movie with Korean film industry insiders on Tuesday, also mentioned his disappointment in the reaction of Korean audiences.

“I felt an intense atmosphere in the theater, and people did not ease up quickly. At the beginning, there is a scene where Tang Wei’s character says, ‘cold-headed person.’ That scene was intended to make the audience laugh, but nobody laughed. That hurt my feelings,” Park said jokingly.

“This movie is not overly serious and has some funny moments. I hope the audience watch it without prejudice,” he added.

The Cannes best director prize-winning film “Decision to Leave” will hit local theaters on June 29.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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