A Simple Life

 

A Simple Life [Tao jie]

Written by Susan Chan & Roger Lee

Production Design: Albert Poon

Photography by Nelson Yu Lik-wai

Edited by Kong Chi-leung & Manda Wai

Music by Law Wing-fai

Produced by Ann Hui, Roger Lee & Chen Pui-wah

Directed by Ann Hui

Theatrical Release: 2011

 

Cast:

Andy Lau

Deanie Yip

Wang Fuli

Qin Hailu

Paul Chun

Tsui Hark

Sammo Hung

Chapman To

Anthony Wong

 

Production Studio:

Theatrical: Bona Int’l Film Group

Video: Well Go Entertainment

 

Video

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD25

Feature Size: 19.30 GB

Total Bit Rate: Moderate (20~22 Mbps)

Runtime: 118 minutes

Chapters: 17

Region: A

 

Audio:

Cantonese, Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

 

Subtitles:

Optional English

 

Extras

• Theatrical Trailer in HD

• Well Go Trailers

 

Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case: BRD x 1

Street Date: February 26, 2013



LensViews:

The Movie: 9

Winner of a number of prestigious awards, including four at the Venice International Film Festival, five at the Hong Kong Film Awards, and the Volpi Cup and Asian Film Award for Best Actress, A Simple Life arrives in North America on Blu-ray high definition video later this month from Well Go Entertainment.  Not your usual action/martial arts/thriller from Well Go, A Simple Life is quieter and gentler, though not without moments of humour and sadness.  Compellingly acted and never sentimentalized, A Simple Life goes to the heart of loyalty and humanity.


     

 

Critical Press:

TwitchFilm

On paper the story is deceptively eh... simple, to the point where you can wonder if there really is a story at all. "A Simple Life" gives you a fly-on-the-wall view of these peoples' lives at a certain moment, but it doesn't work towards anything dramatic or big. Yet this very lack of sentimental embellishing turns out to be the film's biggest strength. Based on an actual event in the life of the movie's writer/producer Roger Lee, what is shown looks honest and real. It helps that the two leads are played by Andy Lau and Deanie Yip who truly deliver phenomenal work here. There is no grand moment when Andy's Roger suddenly realizes how much he always depended on his poor under-appreciated ah-ma, nor does said ah-ma deliver a rambling speech about duty. There is nothing like that in here. Instead, you see the warmth between these two individuals, the tiny subtle winks and jabs of two people who literally spent a lifetime together. As Chung Chun To enters her room (or rather her cubicle) in the old-pensioners home, you fear this will turn into a statement about the plight of exploited and forgotten elderly. And sure, there is some of that in the surroundings and it is mentioned as a valid concern in a Hong Kong where the average age is on the rise, but it is not applicable to Chung Chun To herself. Instead the film shows her changed relationship with the family she helped nurture through several ages. – Ard Vijn


     

 

Time Out Hong Kong

In a subtly emotional performance Andy Lau plays Roger Leung, a character based on real-life film producer Roger Lee who lends his autobiographical account to this heartfelt story. Having been nursed back to health by Sister Tao (Deanie Ip in her career-best performance) after suffering a heart condition a few years back, Roger – who’s been taken care of by Tao throughout his life, and is now the only member of his family still living in Hong Kong – assumes a kind of filial duty to his elderly housekeeper after the latter suffers a minor stroke. In a selfless attempt not to become a burden to her employer-turned-closest family, the unmarried Tao tenders her resignation after working 60-plus years in the household and moves into an old people’s home; but Roger, who travels frequently for his work, has come to appreciate Tao’s significance, thereby deciding to nurse his servant to the very end and becoming her godson in the process. Potentially a very heavy drama on a person’s slow waltz towards death, Hui’s realist portrait has benefitted from its determination against the kind of tear-jerking manipulation ubiquitous in similar movies. – Edmund Lee


     

 

Variety

Suffused with the gentle, unforced humanity viewers have come to expect from Hong Kong helmer Ann Hui, "A Simple Life" is a tender ode to the elderly, their caregivers and the mutual generosity of spirit that makes their limited time together worthwhile. Fittingly for a film about the challenges and rewards of looking after the sick and aging, this well-observed, pleasantly meandering dramedy requires a measure of patience, and some judicious trimming would improve its chances for export. But the moving, never tearjerking lead performances by Andy Lau and Deanie Ip rep strong selling points for Hui's following at home and abroad. . . Ip and Lau, who have been cast as mother and son in any number of films and TV programs, beautifully embody the slightly different dynamic of maid and master here. Whether teasing each other about their respective romantic prospects or attending the premiere of Roger's latest film, the two thesps are enormously endearing to watch together. Ip, for her part, inhabits Ah Tao with unflappable dignity as well as a delightfully feisty attitude as she faces her twilight years head-on. – Justin Chang


     


Image: 8/9

Director Ann Hui and Cinematographer Nelson Yu Lik-wai have opted for a thinnish, almost translucent image, especially on large-screen projection. It’s not a visual style I am drawn to, despite its near-naturalistic look, but it is typically Asian (e.g.: Maborosi & The Hidden Blade), so I am merely confessing to my own prejudices.  That said, Well Go has not gotten in the way with added saturation or contrast, though there is a tendency toward crush as dark clothing and hair loses discrimination. Sharpness is excellent and there are no transfer artifacts of concern.


     

 

Audio & Music: 7/8

Well Go offers only the original Cantonese language track (with smatterings of Mandarin and English) in lossless 5.1 surround, but no English dub for those out there who are subtitle-impaired.  The movie makes a good case for the benefits of an uncompressed track as the name of the game here is: subtlety. Whether in murmured dialogue or the ambiance of the hallways and rooms of the nursing home, the audience is readily placed in this world, both familiar and foreign.


     

 

Extras: 1

Nothing here but the theatrical trailer and some Well Go previews in HD.

 

Recommendation: 8

Well Go’s Blu-ray release of A Simple Life is light on extra features but faithfully reproduces Ann Hui’s prize-winning film for all to admire and enjoy. Warmly recommended.


     


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

February 15, 2013



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