Tonight, after leaving the cinema, I walked through the night-time streets of Birmingham city centre and felt an overwhelming sense of clarity. I slowed my walking pace, letting the wind blow the rain against my face, feeling the cold splash of each droplet as it hit me. I felt the weight of my feet pressing against the ground with each step. I gazed up at the sky and took a deep breath of cool air. What I felt in that moment can’t really be explained but as I’ve said before, there’s something about walking at night time that ignites a fire within me. A way to strip away all the noise and focus on what it feels like to live. It’s not often I experience this much clarity or am this in tune with my body and feelings, so I embraced it for as long as I could.
Naturally, my mind was still buzzing from the film I’d just watched. After a while, I began to think about the way romance has impacted my own life up to this point. The way it engulfs me. The way it eludes me. The way it comes so unexpectedly. The way it never makes sense.
I’m often asked the question ‘what is your type?’ In regards to a preferred romantic partner and my usual answer is that I don’t have one. This topic has come up a lot recently as I’ve been meeting, talking, and drinking with lots of new people. Tonight though, I’m beginning to realise that the actual answer to the question is: ‘I don’t know’. The feeling of love is not something that can be narrowed down or predicted. It washes over you in an instant like a freak riptide submerges the shoreline. A sudden, overwhelming domination of the body.
Decision to Leave presents this feeling by focusing on the unlikeliest pair of characters: a Detective and the prime suspect in the murder case he’s investigating. Their immediate difference in power dynamics offers the perfect way to showcase the force that’s pulling them together. Like the way two magnets flip and connect, despite being placed the wrong way round to begin with. Park Chan Wook makes the decision to portray this budding romance through subtleties and little interactions, zooming in on the details rather than the overall feeling itself. It’s by doing this that the film becomes so sensual and rife with tension. The way they eat food together, the breaths they take when up close, the touch of fingers through handcuffs; each of the senses are displayed vividly and radiate off the screen.
It’s one thing to feel attraction but it’s another thing to share it. Hae-joon and Seo-rae may be drawn to each other but directly admitting it to one another feels near impossible. Hae-joon has a wife and a job, Seo-rae has secrets and a reason not to trust this Detective. So why do they still prevail?
It is part of the human condition to make mistakes. Following your heart can lead to hopelessness and hurt those around you. Following your head can lead to disappointment and misery. Regardless, a decision must be made. Whether it is to stay or leave. Not every path leads to happiness but sometimes the idea of it is worth it alone.
Such is the nature of love; it blinds us, it fools us, it ruins us. But it also connects us, warms us, and completes us. Perhaps it doesn’t make any sense. However, I can’t help but let it wash over me. To allow it to soak through me so I have a chance of feeling its warm grasp once more.