A Simple Life (Film)
Barry C Chung
Ah Tao (Deanie Ip Tak-han) is a helper who has been living with the Leung family for 60 years. She cooks, cleans and looks after Roger (Andy Lau Tak-wah), the only family member still living in Hong Kong. At first, it seems the pair have mostly a master-servant relationship in which conversations are kept to a minimum. But as Ann Hui On-wah's A Simple Life develops, we see their relationship is more like that of mother and son.
But one day Ah Tao suffers a stroke and decides to resign. She asks to be placed in a home for the elderly, which Roger arranges, paying the bill and visiting her whenever his job as a film producer allows. All the other members of the Leung family, including Roger's mother (Wang Fuli), visit her, too. We see a stark contrast in the physical health of the two women who are of the same age. There is also a noticeable reversal of roles in the master-servant relationship: due to a sense of filial duty and gratitude, Roger now tends to his amah.
A Simple Life thrives on simplicity of character and storytelling. The death-bed scene is not drawn out; there's no long, tearful exchange between Roger and his amah. Nor are there speeches about living life to the full. It's no-nonsense and to the point; what's not present reveals so much more.