AKA: He Liu
Directed by: Tsai Ming-liang
Starring: Lee Kang-sheng (Hsiao-Kang), Miao Tien (Father), Lu Hsiao-ling (Mother), Chen Shiang-chyi (former girlfriend)
Country: Taiwan; Effed Up Hong Kong-Chinese-Taiwanese Films
Language: Taiwanese Mandarin (Eng Subs)
Plot – Spoilers:
A Taiwanese man, Hsiao-Kang, doesn’t do anything much and while doing this bumps into a former girlfriend who interestingly addresses him by the name of the actor playing him – Lee Kang-sheng. Since Kang’s doing nothing much, she invites him to a film shoot that she’s involved with, where he lands the role of a drowned corpse in a dirty river. He gains some sex in return for the stench but also picks up a kind of neck affliction that gets progressively worse.
At home, things are mostly silent barring the constant drip from a leaky roof. Dad is gay and Mom seems to know this and spends her free time with a porno chap.
The River is a work of pure class that doesn’t shy from darkly comedic scenes like when father and son ride a bike with the father propping up his son’s flailing neck.
And there’s of course the most poignant moment – when everyone rejects you, only your father can inadvertently comfort you by jerking you off.
Is the leaky roof at home related? Dad was willing to live with it because he was incapable of solving it. Mom on the other hand made the effort and fixed it. But then her vibrator didn’t work, whereas Dad was able to bond sexually with the son.