Examination of the decision to leave – Tang Wei stuns in Park Chan-wook black-widow black | Cannes 2022

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KAmerican director Park Chan-wook was once the master of gonzo revenge violence, but with the adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel The Handmaiden in 2016, he pivoted brilliantly into the stylishly designed suspense thriller. And it’s in that spirit that he’s back at Cannes with this sensational black widow romance, featuring a glorious first round from Chinese star Tang Wei, who enhanced his iconic performance in the spy drama. by Ang Lee in 2007 Lust, Caution. She is effortlessly charismatic and (that overworked word) hypnotic; sexual but reserved, strong, capable, intimidatingly intelligent but bearing a poignant and unrecognized emotional wound. And the intelligence and energy she brings to her relationship with the film’s main man, Park Hae-il, is marvellous.

The tension and intrigue, the grandiose emotional confrontations, the ingenious use of mobile phone technology (which so often thwarts modern thrillers), the stylish settings, including a fantastic rooftop chase, and the delightfully manipulative plot twists. are very Hitchcockian in their way. But the style is not pastiche, which is how this idea usually arises; it’s the kind of Hitchcockian film made by someone who hasn’t necessarily seen a Hitchcockian film before.

The setting is Busan where a cop called Hae-jun grapples with an unsolved murder case involving two known mobster suspects, one of whom resists arrest and receives a fierce beating from Hae-jun who comments so thoughtfully that guy wasn’t tough enough to be the villain he’s looking for. Hae-jun is somehow married to Jung-an (Lee Jung-hyun), but he longs for the cigarettes she won’t let him smoke and suffers from insomnia, which means he takes surveillance measures and monitoring. jobs because he can’t sleep anyway. Then a puzzling new case electrifies him. The shattered body of a climber is found at the base of a well-known climbing rock. Did he fall? Did he commit suicide? Or did someone push him?

On the man’s cell phone, police find grim photos of a woman’s battered and bruised body. And his beautiful wife, Seo-rae (Tang Wei), instantly captivates Hae-jun with her dignity and reserve. She’s a beloved caregiver to the elderly she cares for, and Hae-jun’s Korean patriot is moved by her personal story: Seo-rae came to Korea as an illegal, passionate about Korea in as the homeland of her grandfather who was a soldier in the nation’s defense against Japan in the 1930s. Seo-rae has an alibi for the time of death, but as circumstantial evidence mounts against her, Hae-jun begins to fall deeply in love with this woman, who also seems to fall in love with him, her protector.

Will Hae-jun cover for Seo-rae? Is she all she seems to be? Well, audiences might think they largely know the answers to both of those questions, but Park and Jeong Seo-kyeong’s storyline throws you off balance at every turn, periodically hitting you with new characters and new developments that you have to wait for. to understand . But each new scene made me wedge further forward in my seat – further still for the second then the third act – and the musical score by Jo Yeong-wook downright makes the fear rise. And in every corner of the detective’s life, he finds variation on a single question: When do you decide your marriage isn’t working? When do you know you are in love? What will trigger the decision to leave? It’s a beautifully done and captivating image and Tang Wei is gorgeous.

Decision to leave the screens of the Cannes festival.

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