The Assassin is one of the most beautiful movies ever made. It is also one with the most difficult storytelling. That sounds like the obscurity of the story somehow sabotages the beauty of the movie. It doesn’t. Since you have to really pay attention in order to guess what exactly is happening, you get the occasional breather when the movie shows you a pond at sunrise, with two birds chasing each other across the water. It’s not that the story is complex, it’s just that the way of telling it is unconventional. Characters are introduced by simply being put on screen. Flashbacks don’t come when you expect them. The female protagonist has no more than three or four lines of dialogue. There are two long monologues by two different characters providing a lot of back story; they pause between sentences, and you are never sure if their words are all they are actually saying, or if they are telling all, or telling the truth.