A Simple Life (2011)

Wednesday 15th February 2017

A Simple Life (2011)

113 minutes with subtitles

Director: Ann Hui, Hong Kong

A film about the relationship between a Hong Kong businessman and a female servant who has worked for his family for 60 years. As the servant becomes frail their longstanding formal relationship changes. A tender film, beautifully acted, and filmed in a documentary style.

Andy Lau’s astute performance is rather like the film as a whole – at first you think it’s underdone, but it’s actually cannily judged to favour genuine feeling over pushy sentimentality. As indeed is Deannie Yip’s marvellous central turn as a woman who yearns to belong but whose inveterate submissiveness is shaped by decades of deference and class difference. An exquisite and wise moment of celluloid portraiture.

Deanie Yip won the best actress award at the Venice International Film Festival for her incredibly earnest performance in Ann Hui’s A Simple Life. Also starring Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau (Yip’s real-life Godson), Hui’s film is a breathtaking, yet uniquely uncomplicated, tale of domestic affection, which boasts an invigoratingly optimistic attitude towards life, love and the inevitability of death.