“The Woman in the Mist”: A subtle cinematic work of art

Anyone who is familiar with the films of the South Korean director Park Chan-wook will probably first think of the revenge trilogy. Above all, “Oldboy”, violent excesses, a hammer converted into a weapon, spurting blood. Even 20 years after his international breakthrough, blood and people who died as a result of external influence are recurring motifs in his work.

However, the brutal killing is no longer staged as meticulously as it used to be. Park Chan-wook is getting older, his films are becoming quieter – and so the 59-year-old is content with integrating unnatural dying processes almost casually into the plot.

Slightly old-fashioned Film Noir

At first glance, Park Chan-wook’s new film “Woman in the Mist” is a slightly old-fashioned film noir. The main character is Jang Hae-joon, an archetypal detective: He follows a strict moral code, never chooses the easy way in his investigations, is focused and disciplined to the point of being emotionless.

As is so often the case in Park Chan-wook’s films, this protagonist is also a man with a penchant for obsession: thinking about unsolved cases has been robbing him of sleep for quite some time, dozens of crime scene photos hang in the apartment, he only sees his wife on weekends. A life built on analysis and structure that gets thrown out of step by the young widow of a hobby mountaineer.

The audience becomes an investigator on an emotional level

She, too, is a social outsider: as a Chinese woman in Korea, she knows the feeling of being lost, doesn’t allow herself any mistakes and keeps a cool distance from anything that could harm her. But despite certain personal parallels, the woman suspected of murder remains a mystery to the inspector who watches her all night long – the ideal breeding ground for irrationally rampant passion.