The River

Director: Tsai Ming-Liang
Year Released: 1997
Rating: 2.5

It's tough to put into words how disappointed I am in Tsai's 1997 effort, which, like his other pictures, slides along without much description or explanation, rewarding those with tremendous patience and a keen eye for detail - however, this film, in the last half-hour, tries something none of his other works have, veering enigmatically into Takashi Miike/shock territory. The scene in the bathhouse is so out-of-the-blue (the young man is never shown to have homosexual leanings early on in the film; in fact, just the opposite is suggested) and contrived it manages to ruin everything before (and after) it, transforming what I was hoping would be a movement towards cohesion into Jerry Springer-meets-art-house inanity. The reason a similar scene worked in Miike's Visitor Q is because that experimental feature was clearly shown as extreme satire, whereas this is a much, much more serious statement, aside from a few instances of Tsai's trademark dry humor.