A Simple Life (Tao Jie)
There is a special place in the cinematic world saved for actors who display genuine chemistry between their characters.
Andy Lau (who plays Roger) and his real-life godmother, Deanie Ip (Ah Tao), promote such a touching relationship that it is no surprise this film gained the awards and nominations that it did, including Best Actress for Ip at the 68thVenice International Film Festival.
The taboo subject of old age is always approached with caution: either with comedy to lighten the topic, or with romantic reminiscing of earlier years. It is very seldom that a film explores a raw depiction of old age and the emotions that accompany it. Producer/director Ann Hui has taken a brave step with A Simple Life, showing the audience a much undressed look at old age.
To soften the blow of this bleak prospect are Roger and Ah Tao, who provide humour and life to the film. The storyline follows Ah Tao, a servant, who has looked after the Leung family for the best part of 60 years, and more specifically, Roger, with whom she now resides.
Roger, who is now a film producer, begins the film portraying a rather cold front, coming across as ill-mannered he presents exaggerated rudeness, avoiding eye contact and making demands on Ah Tao.
The roles are reversed when Ah Tao suffers a stroke and, not being able to look after herself – let alone Roger – she asks to be moved to a nursing home.
Ah Tao’s feistiness creates the greatest element of amusement for the film, and Roger’s final realisation of how it is now his turn to look after Ah Tao provides the real heart-warming ingredient.
The title for the film is very concurrent for its content. A Simple Life truly explores the simple pleasures of a realistic situation, and it is refreshing to have such an organic portraiture of an otherwise adverse subject.
Watch the trailer of A Simple Life (Tao Jie) here