it's amazing to me how you can summarize this film so matter of factly and made it through it, but can't realize that your emotional response to it was forecoded by the director. do you think he really wanted you to be mesmerized in the western-commodity-entertainment sense of a viewing experience? to fully appreciate tsai's masterpiece, we have to develop a new viewing strategy descendant from antonioni, ozu, etc. if you need a unifying thread to titillate your sense of linear narrative continuity, try the ubiquity of water in its myriad forms and how that relates to the despair and utter alienation of the characters both constricted by a colonized city that has grown too fast to maintain and the tyranny of the oedipal family scenario as it is linked to the very same capitalistic regime. it is a profound meditation on what happens to the spirit in this highly specific and contextualized allegory shot through with mise-en-scene punning and starkly lyrical use of a poetics of absence. try to get on an equation with the artist not just foist your own expectations on the work and then its secrets will flourish.