The River


Time Out says

A top prize-winner in Berlin, this takes the absurd/ poignant observation of urban isolation and loneliness found in Tsai's two earlier features one step further. A father, mother and son live together-but-apart in a nondescript Taipei apartment, each trapped in a private circle of hell. The taciturn father visits the city's gay saunas for anonymous hand-jobs; the deeply unhappy mother is stuck with an apathetic lover; and the sullen and resentful son finds himself with an agonising (and seemingly incurable) neck pain after an unwise dunking in the polluted Tanshui River. The film's narrative drive has two motors: the quest to alleviate the son's pain and the father's berserk attempts to shore up the ceiling of his room against a leak from the apartment above. Tsai brilliantly conflates the two problems in a climax which is in equal parts real, surreal, melodramatic and inexplicably mysterious. Looks like a future classic.


Release details

124 mins

Cast and crew

Tsai Ming-liang
Tsai Ming-liang, Yang Pi-Ying, Tsai Yi-Chun
Lee Kang-sheng
Miao Tien
Lu Hsiao-Ling
Chen Chaorong
Chen Shiang-Chyi
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