A Simple Life

"Extraordinary"

A Simple Life Review


Based on a true story, this gently episodic drama beautifully portrays the connection between a man and his long-time family maid. It's funny, involving and so well-observed that it sticks in the mind for a long, long time.

Ah Tao (Yip) has served four generations of the Leung family over 60 years and is a friendly, cheerful fixture in the community. Her only real company is her cat until busy filmmaker Roger (Lau) returns to live in the family's Hong Kong flat. When she suffers a stroke, Tao doesn't want Roger to care for her, so he arranges for her to live in a nursing home and visits her regularly during her recovery. As the years pass, what was once a nanny-child relationship becomes something much more meaningful for both of them.

The film is exceptionally well-shot and edited, with earthy performances that create a relaxed, gently humorous mood. Yip and Lau play this relationship beautifully, with funny, warm banter that reflects years of memories, long-running jokes and even some sharp teasing. Food is a running theme, as Roger should be sticking to a healthier diet, and Tao tries to keep him in line. There are plenty of lively side characters, but they all add to this central relationship.

Meanwhile, the nursing home residents hilariously drive Tao nuts, while also reminding her of her mortality. Most memorable is the flirty Kin (Chiang) who continually asks for hand-outs to spend on hookers, but Tao understands why.

Elsewhere, the film is packed with running gags (everyone mistakes the underdressed Roger for a cabbie or repairman) and subtle character detail, including some lovely moments with Roger's mum (Wang) and a terrific sequence in which Roger takes Tao to a glamorous film premiere.

This is an immaculately observed film about how the relational seeds you sow in youth come back later on. Both Tao and Roger realise their reliance on each other, as if their destinies are intertwined and in balance. Along the way, the filmmakers explore the distance between generations and the importance of family history. And as Tao gets increasingly infirm, Roger's joy in spending time with her is both truthful and deeply moving.



A Simple Life

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th March 2012

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: China Lion Film Distribution

Production compaines: Bona International Film Group, Focus Films, Sil-Metropole Organisation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Roger Lee

Starring: as Roger, Deanie Ip as Chung Chun-tao / Ah Tao, Wang Fu-Li as Roger's mother, Paul Chun Pui as Uncle Kin, Leung Tin as Head Master, Hui Siu-Ying as Mui Gu, Hui Pik-Kei as Auntie Kam, Elena Kong as Auntie Kam's daughter, Yu Man-Si as Sharon, Jason Chan Chi-San as Jason, as Grasshopper, Chapman To as Dentist, Eman Lam Yi-Man as Carmen, Lam Yee-Lok as Pastor, as Director Tsui, as Director Hung, Qin Hailu as Ms Choi

Also starring: ,

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