Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 1997, 115 mins. Archival 35mm print. With Miao Tien, Lee Kang-sheng, Lu Yi-ching. “Perhaps the most harrowing of Tsai’s meditations on urban isolation… trains the director’s unblinking gaze on the breakdown of the nuclear family.” (Elvis Mitchell). Talked into playing a dead body on a film shoot, Hsiao-kang agrees to lie face-down in the polluted Tamsui River, and shortly thereafter develops a mysterious neck pain. The lingering effects create tension in the apartment that he shares with his parents, which each member of the family escapes to pursue some kind of satisfaction on their own. Concluding with a startling eruption of repressed desire, The River is among Tsai’s most divisive and uncompromising works.
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