So many of the film's apparent flaws are, 20 yrs later, Tsai's stylistic strengths, still here being tested; not yet as effective as they will be. More important is the way the oblique story, mood, themes, all seep in relentlessly anyway, like his water. Why does Pen-Jung Liao's cinematography never get mentioned the way, say, Chris Doyle's does? It's perfect. Memory prompt: LKS's Beckett-worthy agonized contortions.
This was a very hard film for me to watch, and my rating might be a little high, BUT I cannot deny that this film has been in my head for days, and that, while it IS depressing, it is also absolutely fascinating. I guess I just wish why I knew Hsaio Kang went to the Sauna toward the end...
All this pain and darkness makes you uncomfortable, but worth seeing. Still a mystery what has happened, but has to do something with entering into dirty river or being replacement for the doll. Bleak tone contributes to atmosphere greatly; makes life events seem unavoidable.