The bleakest of Tsai's films, The River is a weird parable that revels in its structural incompleteness. Alienation and despair, typical elements in Tsai's work, are here bathed in a sense of nihilism and dread that doesn't accept redeeming facets: this is a film that feels sick and sickening. The sense of humor is, as usual, point blank - and here it bites even harder.
A masterpiece. Portrait of a family of strangers, only embracing in the darkness when they believe they're at their most alone. Water connects them- the poisoned titular river, a leak from the ceiling, steam in a bath house- though the realization of this continuum yields little change or reflection. Kang-sheng's constant neck fidgeting still haunts me.
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.
A poignantly focused feature of the disjointed & secret lives of a chinese family. They hardly know each other, rarely exchange words, eye contact..one leaves a room before another has a chance to enter it -so unfamiliar to each other that they frequently mistake one another for strangers. An underworld shot with such tension you feel you mustn't breathe or even blink for fear of being caught looking in on it.
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.
two hour linked to model inside water metaphor ,it likened life to cinema with clichéd language.when Suppressed sexuality becomes clear the moment , this choice started to be seen as a solution to solve the neck problem in a mystic way, the boy surviving from turning into person kind of motionless model in his life .at least this story could told inside a short film...
"The river" en primera parece una historia sobre la tragedia. Es la enfermedad que cala la integridad de un hombre. Es el tránsito de la rutina común al castigo. En paralelo, una temática ya conocida por Ming-liang, la soledad. Es lo íntimo que intenta convivir con el drama del hijo. Por último, el erotismo como una respuesta a esa intimidad. La sexualidad como una reacción al dolor o el pesar, el ajeno o propio.