Plot & Details
Tsai Ming-Liang's The River, the Taiwanese master's third feature, opens with a chance encounter between Xiao-Kang (Lee Kang-Sheng) and an old friend (Chen Shiang-Chyi), an unexpected meeting that sets this bleak and ultimately disturbing film on its course. Persuaded to accompany his friend to a film set where she works as a production assistant, Xiao-Kang is recruited by the director to play a corpse floating in a polluted river. After the shoot, Xiao-Kang struggles to wash the river's stench off -- and begins to feel a twinge in his neck. Meanwhile, the movie shifts its attention to two other people, a middle-aged woman (Lu Hsiao-Ling) working as an elevator operator in a restaurant, and a man (Miao Tien) who alternates his time at McDonald's and a gay bathhouse. It's eventually revealed that the two are Xiao-Kang's parents, and that the three of them live together in a Taipei apartment building that's as much in need of repair as their relationship. As Xiao-Kang's neck pain lingers, the parents grow increasingly concerned and help him seek relief in both science and superstition, to no avail. A trip to a provincial healer becomes the last resort for the ailing Xiao-Kang and occasions a devastating twist that brings the movie to an unsettling close.
- Genre(s): Drama
- Run Time: 115min.
- DVD Release Date: 02/04/2003
- Director(s): Tsai Ming-Liang
- Starring: Lee Kang-Sheng , Lu Hsiao-Ling , Miao Tien
- Themes: Infidelity,Fathers and Sons,Mothers and Sons,Living With Disability,Families in Crisis
- Tone: Disturbing,Grim,Intimate,Matter-of-Fact,Poignant
- Keywords: bathhouse, film-set, friendship, healer, pain, parent, relationship, river
- Language: Mandarin