Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Simple Life


Five-time award winner at the 31st Annual Hong Kong Film Awards A SIMPLE LIFE is coming of age drama - but not the teen-angst tale that has been so deeply explored in the recent decades of cinema. Instead, a story of a woman coming to terms with retirement and old age.

Following a stroke, Ah Tao decides to retire as a maid and take up residence in a care home. But after 60 years of service to several generations of one family, she is still matron to one of the family members, Roger (Andy Lau), whom ensures she is in good hands when her physical health decreases. She struggles to be doted on as former masters and mistresses come bearing gifts and bring comfort, whilst trying to accept her condition as she watches both the old and young and less fortunate pass through the doors of the home.

 A Simple Life doesn’t just depict an honest and heart warming journey of a woman coping with the transition towards elderliness and frailty, physical deterioration and dependence. Amidst the gradual struggle and the inevitable and unfair robbing of health that old age brings, lies a touching story of a profound family friendship. Not blood-related members but as close to it (always referring to each other as god-son or Aunt), Ah Toa and Roger's relationship is not one of perhaps a conventional family obligation, but one of a deep sense of gratification and respect as their roles become conditionally reversed and their responsibilities for each other swap hands.

Andy Lau (Internal Affairs, 2002 and House of Flying Daggers, 2004) and Deannie Yip (who hasn’t acted in anything substantial in a decade) reunite after numerous past collaborations (The Truth, 1988 and Prince Charming, 1999), forming an inspiring and moving on-screen bond. Their sentimental connection is transparent in both their light-hearted and jovial exchanges (teasing one another as they walk through the park arm in arm), and when there is but little need for words.

Inspired by the true story of the producer (Roger Lee) and his servant, writers Susan Chan and Yan-lam Lee, and director Anne Hui bring plenty of heartbreak, but also a lingering sense of reassurance and joy, a welcomed measure of cheerful optimism, in this stunning portrayal of the latter period of one’s, ‘simple life.’

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