Park Chan-wook is “not the biggest fan” of the film noir

The director also revealed that he is “not a movie buff” and rarely sees a film more than once.

Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the 2022 festival season, winning Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival before competing in Venice and Toronto. Many have praised the “oldboy” director’s ability to blend aspects of film noir with more conventional romantic tropes, but that doesn’t mean he considers himself a fan of the genre.

In a new interview with The Film Stage, Park explained that “Decision to Leave” shouldn’t be read as a noir homage. In fact, he was far more influenced by detective fiction than any cinematic genre.

“It might sound surprising, but I’m not the biggest fan of the noir genre,” he said. “I’m not really a movie fan either. I don’t watch the same movie multiple times. There is a charming element to the noir genre, but with many noir films, sometimes the plot fails, or the plot feels too contrived, or relies too much on clichés. Of course, the big noir films are an exception to this. Also, noir films sometimes seem a bit more stylized. So I wasn’t very aware of the noir genre. I was more influenced by crime novels like the Ed McBain series and the Swedish series with detective Martin Beck.”

His thoughts on the film noir genre echo similar comments he made to IndieWire’s Eric Kohn during a recent interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. There he explained that he is prioritizing the film’s romantic plot to correct what he saw as flaws in many film noirs.

“My film starts as a film noir and ends as a romance,” said Park. “Most film noirs are too obsessed with setting the ambiance and focusing on the dark mood. They don’t bring out the multidimensional facets of life.”

“I always thought about doing love stories,” he continued. “But at some point I realized that nobody said that about my films. They even laugh when I make that kind of comment and take it as a joke. That got me thinking about why. My assessment was that maybe violence and nudity really were just the main focus. It was just too strong, too graphic. This time I really had to suppress those things to show something different.”

“Decision to Leave” is in theaters now.

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Lindsay Lowe

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