Skip to main content
The River Movie Poster
Plot, Details & Awards

The River

Share this movie on

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.

Berlin International Film Festival

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1997 Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear - Special Jury Prize Won

Stay Connected with Moviefone

My Settings

You are currently subscribed as: {email}


Get the latest reviews, movie news, photos, and trailers sent straight to your inbox.

Weekly Newsletter

Daily alerts


You're not following any movies.

These are the movies you’re currently following.

    Update settings