I thought I would like The Assassin, I really did. It was a martial arts film with a lady assassin! “What could be better than that?” I said.
Reviews were quite favorable, although one thing did jump out at me — the mentions of the “glacial pace.”
“Oh, it couldn’t possibly be that bad,” I thought.
I was right that it couldn’t be that bad, because it was worse. Oh, gods, was it worse. Characters would walk into a scene and stand there for several minutes, motionless, saying nothing. A scene would end, and the camera would linger on the unmoving actor’s face. Characters would stare at each other for what felt like actual eons without a single piece of dialogue or action taking place.
This isn’t glacial, I thought to myself. This is what glacial endeavors to be.
Anyway, once you get past the interminably languid pace, you then have to deal with the fact that most of the dialogue is just exposition, that the plot is a bit silly (the titular assassin, being punished for her soft heart, is sent to murder her cousin, whom she lets live, because of her soft heart, so who didn’t see that coming, I guess), and that the director won honors at Cannes despite choosing to film an important confrontation between the assassin and her master from about a half a mile away.
So there you have it. The reasons I didn’t like The Assassin.
Mostly it was the pacing, though. Good God, the pacing.