Great sadness hides behind great beauty.
Zhang Yimou’s haunting look at the life of a concubine in 1920’s China is among the most-gorgeous films of the ’90s – or any era, for that matter.
But beneath the opulence a lot of nasty things linger – death, betrayal, and ultimately, madness.
Gong Li, a subtly-powerful actress, captures every flickering emotion as a young woman essentially sold into slavery after the death of her father leaves her family bankrupt.
Her new marriage offers great rewards, at first, but crushing sadness soon becomes her constant handmaiden.
Lovely to look at, and chilling to behold.