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'A simple life' is a film about human kindness. About caring for others. About harmonious human relationships. Does this sound cheesy? It's not meant that way. The film shows how caring for one another can make a difference, but it's never sentimental and there's no tear jerking at all.
The story centres around A Tao, a housekeeper who cooks and cleans for film producer Roger, who is not married and travels a lot. When returning home from one of his travels from Hong Kong to mainland China, A Tao doesn't open the door. She has had a stroke and after her stay in the hospital, she moves to an old people's home. Roger visits her regularly and gradually they become closer. At the start of the movie they are employer and employee, at the end they are friends.
Director Ann Hui shows this process with small, symbolic scenes. When A Tao serves Roger his food in one of the first scenes, only one word is spoken, when she asks him to move something on the table to make room for the dish she has prepared. The contrast with another key scene, later on in the movie, is huge. After A Tao has recovered from the stroke, Roger takes her to the first screening of his new film and introduces her to movie stars as his godmother. Afterwards, they walk away hand in hand, chattering affectionately about the film business.
A Tao visibly enjoys this party, and the attention she receives from her 'godson'. This is just one of the examples of the wonderful acting by Deannie Yip, a famous actress in the Hong Kong film industry but unknown to the rest of the world. In this film, she seemingly effortlessly plays A Tao first as a humble servant, then as a physically handicapped patient and also as a coquettish lady. How wonderful it must have been for her to receive a 'best actress'-award at the Venice Film Festival for her part as A Tao.
The film focuses on the relationship between Roger and A Tao, and the development of their mutual appreciation. Apart from that, not much really happens. There are some humorous little scenes that will make you smile, as well as some more emotional ones. This is a slow and low-profile film, to be appreciated by a typical art-house audience.
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