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The River review

A young man living with his parents in Taipei develops a mysteriously acute pain in his neck and shoulders. Treatments such as massage, acupuncture, hospitalisation, and even spiritual exorcism, are unable to stop his torment, and all the while a non-stop flow of water continues to leak into the family apartment. Admittedly, some may be put off by the languid pacing and almost complete lack of dialogue and music, but probing and allegorical, The River exerts a hypnotic pull on the viewer. The anguish here is emotional and physical, as the lonely characters wrestle with sexual desires, unable to communicate their true feelings. The film is beautifully composed, but takes you to some uncomfortably dark places - in particular, a father-and-son sex scene in a gay sauna. This lingers in the mind for days. The film, not the sauna scene...

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