Hsiao-kang takes a swim in a heavily polluted river. Later, after falling off his motorcycle, he feels a strange and growing neck pain that turns him into a wreck. His father does his best to find a cure for him. At the same time, he is trying to repair a persistent leak dripping from his bedroom ceiling.
In all of Tsaï Ming-liang’s films, water is often a key element but, here, in The River, this obsession comes most clearly to the fore: the liquid state not only of the world, but also bodies, everything that oozes or overflows, cannot be contained or just flows away. The ambivalence of signs, threats, the indiscernible secretion and emanation of life.