Park Chan-wook Reveals He’s ‘Not the Biggest Fan of the Noir Genre’ Despite Success of ‘Decision to Leave’

The director also revealed that he is "not a film buff" and rarely watches a movie more than once.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15:Park Chan-wookattends the 2nd Annual Academy Museum Gala at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on October 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Park Chan-wook
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Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave’ was one of the most 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 the film noir with more conventional romance 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” should not be read as an homage to film noir. In fact, he was far more influenced by mystery novels than he was by any cinema genre.

“This might sound surprising, but I’m not the biggest fan of the noir genre,” he said. “I’m not really a film buff either. I don’t rewatch the same movie multiple times. There is a charming element about the noir genre, but for a lot of noir films sometimes the plot fails, or the plot feels too artificial, or it relies too much on cliché. Of course, this is excluding the great noir films. Noir films also sometimes feel a bit more stylized. So I wasn’t very conscious of the noir genre. I was more influenced by detective novels, like Ed McBain’s series and the Swedish series with detective Martin Beck.”

His thoughts about the film noir genre echo similar comments he recently made to IndieWire’s Eric Kohn during an interview conducted at the Toronto International Film Festival. There, he explained that he prioritized the film’s romantic storyline as a way of rectifying what he saw as a flaw with many film noirs.

“My film starts out as a film noir and ends as a romance,” Park said. “Most film noirs are too obsessed with creating the ambience and focusing on the dark mood. They fail to bring out the multidimensional facets of life.”

“I have always considered that I have been making love stories,” he continued. “But I realized at one point that nobody has been saying that about my films. They even laugh when I make that kind of comment and take it as a joke. That got me into thinking about why. My assessment was that perhaps violence and nudity were really just at the forefront of everything. It was just too strong, too graphic. This time around, I really had to subdue these things to show something different.”

“Decision to Leave” is now playing in theaters. 

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