empathy and sympathy
acceptable suspense (developments predicted minutes before)
untraceable (natural) acting
I think it is dangerous for one to look into any artwork too deeply for meanings… you end up seeing what you want to see.
That said, the SET-UP of the film can be seen as an quite to-the-point allegory of all repression. the ruling class (men) created a lopsided silly “game” (competition for getting the lit lanterns and foot massages [ i have to say… was the original novel talking about having drug access/privileges? it’s hard to believe having withdrawal for foot massage… just do it yoself!]), and the repressed (concubines) end up spending their energy chasing the illusion of success without realizing the true danger and refinement. Or if you do end up trying to fight it, you will be ostrasized (go “insane”) or silenced (forced “suicides”). Either way, shame is on the way.
But now for the actual film, I find it truly bland except for its power on portraying a right mood (with the non-diegetic chanting/music/singing and the liberal usage of silence). The story itself is extremely predictable (maybe I’ve since too much 后宫戏/大臣拉党结派 drama as a kid?), and the characters are just a nudge too far from vibrant, full, or realistic. idk maybe that was the point in demonstrating the lethargy repression brings about.
#TAG SCORE: 5