The Rotting World of 'Decision to Leave'

Yuhang Zhang

PhD Scholar
Goldsmiths, University of London

Decision to Leave, dir. Park Chan-wook, 2022. Image courtesy of Mubi

As part of a series of reflections by our Fellows, we have partnered with ArtReview to publish a collection of writings that will explore and unlock the future of curatorial and research practice. Here, Yuhang Zhang, our PhD Scholar at Goldsmiths, shares with us his reflections upon the subdued allure of the detective noir 'Decision to Leave' (2022) and the profound degradation that simmers beneath.

"During the first half of the film, every time we see a corpse rotting, wounds festering or scratches encrusting, we do so through its reflection via live images on a monitor or a phone or an X-ray. From there the images creep onto the detective’s private photo wall – a memento mori of murder scenes. And then the rot seems to spread, from the pictures and screens to the ‘real’ world. Park forces the audience to witness the materiality of the rotting state by zooming in on a fly landing on a dead human’s eye, or on mould growing on the wallpaper in the detective’s pristine villa in the misty town of Ipo, or on the new bruises (signs of damage) that keep appearing on Seo-rae’s torso. Moreover, as the movie progresses, Hae-jun becomes obsessed with looking at dead bodies. Eventually he is overwhelmed by them."

Click here to read Yuhang Zhang's full article for ArtReview, published on 24 May 2023.