As you begin to watch Park Chan-wook‘s Decision to Leave (MUBI, 10.14), there’s no denying that you’re being carried along by a masterful visual composer. Every shot is exquisite, a painting, an eye bath…and so perfectly balanced.

And during the first 30 to 40 minutes you can’t help saying to yourself “wow, this guy is really good” while at the same time hoping that it’ll amount to more than just a delicious film noir by way of a haunting mood trip.

And of course it doesn’t. As the first hour comes to an end it begins to hit you. This film is all visual swoon and superficial noir strokes, you realize — it’s not going to build or pivot or dovetail into anything. But it’ll look great every step of the way.

And then you look at your watch and go “oh Jesus Mary mother of God, there’s another 70 or 80 minutes to go!” And you realize that you’re stuck, and you descend into a feeling of being locked in an animal cage filled with straw. And you realize, of course, that the minutes are just going to drag on and on. You’d like to leave but you can’t because you’re watching a film by the great Park Chan-wook, and only a rank philistine would do such a thing.

I’m just saying that Decision to Leave is opening on a week from Friday, and that…oh, hell, do what you want. Some critics are nuts for this guy. But this film should ideally be called Decision to Avoid.

Following the big Toronto Film festival debut, the U.S. premiere of Decision to Leave happened at Austin’s Fantastic Fest (9.22 to 9.29) — that should tell you something.

Posted from Cannes on 5.23: With all due respect for Park Chan-wook’s smoothly masterful filmmaking chops (no one has ever disputed this) and the unbridled passion that his cultish film critic fans have expressed time and again…

And with respect, also, for the time-worn film noir convention of the smart but doomed male protagonist (a big city homicide detective in this instance) falling head over heels for a Jane Greer-like femme fatale and a psychopathic wrong one from the get-go

The labrynthian (read: convoluted) plotting of Park’s Decision To Leave, though initially intriguing, gradually swirls around the average-guy viewer (read: me) and instills a feeling of soporific resignation and “will Park just wrap this thing up and end it already?

Jesus God in heaven, but what doth it profit an audience to endure this slow-drip, Gordian knot-like love story-slash-investigative puzzler (emphasis on the p word) if all that’s left at the end is “gee, what an expert directing display by an acknowledged grade-A filmmaker!”