Tao Jie (A Simple Life)
Autumn 2013 Features series
Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 7:00pm
Directed by Ann Hui
Screenplay by Susan Chan and Yan-lam Lee
Starring Andy Lau , Deannie Yip, and Lawrence Ah Mon
Rated NR ·
Cantonese, English, and Mandarin
Tao jie (A Simple Life)
A Simple Life is a Hong Kong drama directed by Ann Hui and inspired by the true story of producer Roger Lee and his servant.
Since her teenage years, Chung Chun-Tao has worked as an amah—a servant—for the Leung family. Known as Ah Tao (Deannie Yip), she witnessed every aspect of the family’s life. Now, after 60 years of service, she is looking after Roger (Andy Lau, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame) who works in the film industry and is the only member of the family still resident in Hong Kong.
One day Roger comes home from work to find that Ah Tao has suffered a stroke. He rushes her to hospital, where she announces that she wants to quit her job and move into a nursing home. Roger researches the possibilities and finds her a room in an establishment run by an old friend. Ah Tao moves in and begins acquainting herself with a new “family:” the brisk but fundamentally kindly supervisor Ms Choi (Hailu Qin) and a motley crew of elderly residents. Giving ever more time and attention to Ah Tao’s needs and pleasures, Roger comes to realise how much she means to him.
“A Simple Life paints portraits of two good people in gentle humanist terms. It filled me with an unreasonable affection for both of them. Here is a film with the clarity of fresh stream water, flowing without turmoil to shared destiny. No plot gimmicks. No twists and turns. Just a simple life. A movie in which the old lady is forgotten by the family would have been predictable melodrama, but how much more moving it is when she is remembered. The movie has an emotional payoff I failed to anticipate. It expresses hope in human nature. It is one of the year’s best films.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
“Ms. Hui, a rare successful female director in the Hong Kong film industry, drew her story from real events, and the movie retains a tonic flavor of the everyday: its drama unfolds simply, without explosive moments but not without emotion. She and her two excellent leads keep the film buoyant.” (Rachel Saltz, The New York Times)