Reuniting superstar Andy Lau with his godmother Deanie Ip on the big screen for the first time in 23 years, A Simple Life is a deeply moving story about the relationship between a young man and a family servant that is handled with exquisite affection and grace by Ann Hui.
Based on a true story, the film centres on Ah Tao (Ip), an amah (servant and nanny) who has worked for the Leung family for four generations. She lives with and takes care of Roger (Lau), a film producer who is the only member of the Leung household still living in Hong Kong. Roger returns home one day and finds Ah Tao unconscious after a stroke. Convinced she has becoming a burden, Tao resigns and moves into a retirement home. But upon her arrival, she continues to be taken care of by Roger, who realizes just how important she is to him. He decides to do his best to watch after the person who has nurtured him all his life. But Ah Tao’s health is fast deteriorating.
Hui has always excelled when telling stories of everyday life. In A Simple Life, she delivers a rich and heartwarming drama that not only deals with the many abandoned old people in Hong Kong, but also exquisitely captures the unique relationship between the amah and the family for which she cares. In an age when loyalty between employers and employees is fast disappearing, A Simple Life highlights a culture that has almost ceased to exist in Hong Kong: one in which a person devotes their life to serving a family, and in return is cherished as much as any other relative.
Delivering what may be the best performances of their careers, Lau and Ip display perfect chemistry and restraint as two people who have known each other all their lives. Affecting but never sentimental, A Simple Life is undoubtedly one of Hui’s best films to date. –TIFF
Ann Hui On-Wah (simplified Chinese: 许鞍华; traditional Chinese: 許鞍華; pinyin: Xǔ Ānhuá; Hepburn: Kyo Anka; born 23 May 1947 to a Chinese father and a Japanese mother) is a Hong Kong film director, film producer and occasional screenwriter, one of the most critically acclaimed amongst the Hong Kong New Wave. She has a reputation for balancing commercial appeal with artistry.
Hui was born in Anshan, Liaoning, China and she moved to Macau, then to Hong Kong when she was five. She studied in St. Paul’s Convent School. She studied English language and literature and comparative literary studies in the University of Hong Kong until 1972, when she received her Masters, before spending two years in the London International Film School. Returning to Hong Kong in 1975, she entered TVB as a director, making many serials and documentaries on 16mm. During this time she in particular helped King Hu as an assistant on television. The most notable featurette she made during this period was Boy… read more
An elderly maid, who has taken care of the same family for nearly 60 years, suffers a stroke and decides to move into a nursing home. The youngest of the family, a successful movie producer who was practically raised by her, decides to put his career on hold and become her caretaker, switching their roles and in the last few months of her life, becoming her closest friend. A simple, lovely, deeply moving film.
Ann Hui’s moving melodrama is about an aging maid in Hong Kong being looked after by her employer’s son (Andy Lau). Out now in the US.
Tsui Hark’s Flying Swords of Dragon Gate leads with seven, followed by Flowers of War and Seediq Bale, with six each.
Also: Reitman’s Young Adult. Masters of Cinema’s Touch of Evil Blu-ray. Teaser for Miike’s Ai To Makoto.
Silver Lion for Cai Shangjun (People Mountain People Sea). Acting awards for Michael Fassbender and Deanie Ip.
Ann Hui’s moving melodrama A Simple Life is about an aging maid in Hong Kong being looked after by her employer’s son (Andy Lau).
“Ann Hui’s brilliant filmography extends back to 1979, and this new work instantly earns pride of place as one of its glories.”