Compare Offers on Amazon
+ CDN$ 3.49 shipping
The River [Import]
The strange, elliptical movies of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang (The Hole, What Time Is It There?) defy encapsulation. A description of The River will tell you about a female elevator operator, her pornography-selling lover, and her husband who goes to gay bathhouses. Her unhappy scooter-riding son runs into an actress he knew a few years earlier; she brings him to the set of a movie she's working on, where the young man gets a role as a corpse floating in a river. But none of that amounts to a plot in any conventional sense, and that summary doesn't capture the slow but hypnotic pace of Tsai's movies, or how the seemingly ordinary images will burn themselves into your memory. The lack of conventional action will frustrate some viewers, but others will find deadpan humor and an eerie cinematic poetry. --Bret Fetzer
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
The father has a completely ordinary life during the day (however we never actually learn what he does for a living), and leads a secret life at night roaming Taipei's gay bathhouses. As a B-plot, dad is on a mission to stop his bedroom ceiling from leaking water from the apartment above him.
Xiao-Kang's mother works as an elevator operator. There's hardly a moment where you see her conversing or interacting with her husband, which might explain why she has undertaken an affair with a pornographer. The fact that her husband is secretly gay only serves to reinforce the viewer's belief that she is unsatisfied at home.
Then there's the main character, Xiao-Kang, a young man who seems very detached from his mother, father, and everybody else in general. At the start of the movie, he becomes reacquainted with an actress friend of his. She brings him to the set of her next movie, where the director spends half her day trying to film a dead corpse floating down the Tansui River. After many unsuccessful attempts, the director decides that the dummy being used as the dead corpse just does not look genuine enough to work in her film.
The river is the symbolic focal point of the movie. Years of pollution has turned it into a stagnating cesspool. As the movie trailer says, the river represents life. Roughly, it says this: You can either stagnate, or begin again anew... you can either float to the top, or sink straight to the bottom. This is a very inciteful and poetic philosophy behind the idea of the film.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
You will find none of this in this movie, but it is certainly worth viewing and once you understand the reason for the lack of interaction between characters, it does make sense.
Another aspect that makes the movie difficult is the long scenes when nothing is happening on the screen. That was the director's approach.
The family is totally disfunctional as a unit. The parents never speak to each other, they all eat alone, and they function in their own little worlds with virtually no emotion.
Even sex is random with no emotions attached.
After the encounter between the son and the father, no one speaks of it and life continues on as before. There is no resolution to anything. That is the horror of the whole movie.
What we see is three people living in the same small apartment who are almost completely estranged from each other, rarely speaking, deeply bored and reaching out for human contact through occasional moments of illicit and unsatisfying encounters. The absence of familial affection and the emptiness of its substitutes are brought together in a final ironic incident between father and son.
Water, the bringer of life and purification, is instead a menacing presence in the film - from a polluted river to a leaky ceiling that seems unrepairable. Winner of many awards when it was released, the film is a troubling portrayal of modern urban life. While its long, slow scenes require some patience from the viewer, there is much to ponder as the closing credits begin to crawl - and for hours afterward.
Look for similar items by category
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Country > Taiwan
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Genre > Drama
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Genre > Romance
- Movies & TV > Art House & International > By Original Language > Chinese
- Movies & TV > Drama > Family Life > Fathers & Sons
- Movies & TV > Drama > Family Life > Mothers & Sons
- Movies & TV > Drama > Love & Romance