Though the film deals with old age and death, the overall tone is kept light with vivid characters. It is one of the defining works of the year and essentially a simple movie about simple and unexplored characters of Hong Kong people. It has won lots of awards, and naturally, its a true to form film for Mr. Lau. Ann Hui’s “A Simple Life” is a poignant and melancholic film about the relationship between an old servant and her companion, a successful film producer to whose family the servant had been in service with. It is a beautiful, touching, and, more importantly, human film. It lives and breathes its own life with the help of the cast and crew involved. Movies like these only comes along once in a generation.
In the film, Deannie Yip and Andy Lau are pitch-perfect as Tao and Roger, drawing from their numerous previous screen corroborations as mother and son. In an interview with Time Out, Hong Kong, director Ann Hui also intimated that on the process of aging, she has deep personal experience with her own mother. Also, the focus is not on her medical conditions and subsequent pain from her health but her story and how her life changes and the way she copes and adapts. In a different forum I would go through each character and analyse interactions. Beauty of this film is in the simple way narrated various interpersonal interactions. It expresses hope in human nature.
A storyline dealing with the kind of issues the film does may not sound like much fun and in places it is hard going, factor in a running time of almost two hours and it may sound like the odds are stacked against the film. However, it is a poignant take. In many dramatic Chinese movies, the piano is a must for every music score, and it is overdone cheesily at many times. For this movie, however, composer Law Wing-Fai knows crucial music timing – the music is not overdone, yet not too minimal, and it knows when to appear at the right time. Life is never easy and sometimes, we just tend to forget those people who work their life within behind the scene, with heart, soul and pure dedication. So I opted to pay attention to the more subtle aspects of the film.
I think Ann Hui truly has become great in the 21st century. I know there are fans of her 1980s works and worked with a lot of really good actresses in the 1990s. Reminds me of the realities in getting older and how we should treat the elderly. At its core, it is a film about human interactions, feelings, relationships and old age. One day, we will die and old age is a burning topic for the baby boomer’s generation. It’s a movie where there’re no explosions, no foresight drama or no extreme twists… it’s truly, a simple life, which showed me how simple it can be to be humble, and care for those we love.