7.2/10
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The River (1997)

He liu (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 7 August 1997 (Taiwan)
Trailer
1:21 | Trailer
A young man develops severe neck pain after swimming in a polluted river; his dysfunctional parents are unable to provide any relief for him or themselves.

Director:

Ming-liang Tsai
6 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tien Miao ... Father
Kang-sheng Lee ... Hsiao-Kang
Yi-Ching Lu ... Mother (as Hsiao-Ling Lu)
Ann Hui ... Director (as Anne Hui)
Shiang-chyi Chen ... Girl
Chao-jung Chen ... Anonymous Man
Shiao-Lin Lu Shiao-Lin Lu ... Mother's lover (as Long Chang)
Kuei-Mei Yang ... Girl in Hotel
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Storyline

In Taiwan, Xiao-kang, a young man in his early 20s, lives with his parents in near silence. He is plagued by severe neck pain. His father is bedeviled by water first leaking into his bedroom and then flooding the apartment; rain is incessant. Xiao-kang's mother is overcome by sexual longing for her son, sometimes making seemingly incestuous overtures. They try virtually every intervention for Xiao-kang's neck: Western medicine, a chiropractor, acupuncture, an herbal doctor, and a faith healer, Master Liu. Are the family's silent dynamics and Xiao-kang's neck pain connected? And what about the body floating in the Tamsui River: is everything dead? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Taiwan

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

7 August 1997 (Taiwan) See more »

Also Known As:

The River See more »

Filming Locations:

Taipei City, Taiwan

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The director of the movie in which Xiao-Keng floats in the river is played by real-life Hong Kong director Ann Hui. See more »

Quotes

Girl: Hsiao-kang, I want to go pee. Could you turn off the lights?
[Hsiao-kang turns off the lights]
Girl: The curtains, too.
See more »

Connections

Follows Vive L'Amour (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Watch it and enjoy it-it's great!
11 March 2002 | by fabreuSee all my reviews

Tsai Ming-Liang offers viewers in "The River" an honest chance to take it or leave it right from the first sequence. If you make it through and enjoy (or rather, are puzzled by) this first sequence - a film shooting in a river, depicted in a long, almost real-time pace - you will for sure be caught in his stream, because what follows is simply great, original, surprising, offbeat, funny, alarming and often mind-boggling.

Tsai is a Taiwan filmmaker whose cinematic grammar apparently owes a lot to Westerners - especially to Europeans. You can spot Truffaut in his love for his characters, in the way he always casts his favorite actor Lee kang-Sheng much in the way Truffaut did with Jean-Pierre Léaud, and in the mysterious and surprising ways love expresses itself in his films.

You can feel the influence of Antonioni in the long sequences without dialogue or music, in the urban chaos leading to lack of communication between the characters, in the forces of nature (the heavy constant rain, the omnipresence of water in this case) responding to "civilization's" abuse - the echologic chaos.

You can feel a touch of the Godard of "Le Mépris" in the total lack of communication between very close people (the couple in Godard, the family here) and the kind of non-conform sexuality of the Pasolini of "Teorema" (sexual repression and catharsis among the family members, in both cases).

But Tsai has got something all his own. I've seen now all his feature films and it's very impressive to see how he has developed a language of his own, through his imagery, his pace, his actors' performances, his conflicts, his endings. He is sure to always include unforgettable sequences (here, for sure, the sequence in the sauna between father and son) that will haunt you, delight you, disgust you, move you and stay with you long after you've left the theatre. That's a rare accomplishment in any visual arts these days.

For me, "The River" is surely Tsai's masterpiece to date, a film that flows slowly, harmoniously, hauntingly, effortlessly to its destination, catches you in its stream, and leads you to a free-meaning ending - which, in this case, is something warmly welcome.


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