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A Simple Life(2011)
Roger is a successful movie producer with a housekeeper, Ah Tao, who has worked for his family over the course of four generations. Ah Tao has been a nanny and maid for Roger's family for nearly all her adult life, and he looks upon her as a member of the family rather than an employee. When Roger comes home one day to discover Ah Tao has suffered a severe stroke, its' clear she's no longer up to the demands of her job, and he agrees to help her relocate to a nursing home. Roger, the only member of his family still living in Hong Kong, is eager to help, but he's unsure of just how much he's supposed to do for her and is afraid to seem neglectful; Ah Tao, on the other hand, doesn't want to be a burden to Roger, and their relationship goes through an awkward period.
For more about A Simple Life and the A Simple Life Blu-ray release, see A Simple Life Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Andy Lau, Deannie Yip
Director: Ann Hui
» See full cast & crew
A Simple Life Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 17, 2013
Winner of Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival, Ann Hui's "Tao jie" a.k.a "A Simple Life" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Films. The supplemental features on the disc include an original theatrical trailer for the film and standard making of featurette. In Cantonese, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs, Running Out of Time) is Roger, a hardworking professional in his early 50s who lives in Hong Kong. He is involved in the film industry and is currently working on getting a group of Mainland producers to invest into an exciting new project. Also involved with the project are the legendary director Tsui Hark and action star Sammo Hung. Early into the film, the three successfully trick one of the Mainland producers to accept their financial terms.
Roger lives together with Ah Tao (Deannie Yip, The Lunatics), his family's loyal maid. She is in her 70s and not as healthy as she used to be. But she still cooks for him and cleans up his apartment. Occasionally they talk about life, but Tao prefers not to speak so that Roger can focus on his work.
Roger's life changes dramatically when one day he returns home and discovers that Ah Tao has suffered a stroke. She is quickly sent to a local hospital, where later on she announces that she wants to move to a nursing home. Roger is surprised by Ah Tao's request but quickly arranges a room for her in a nearby nursing home. He even gets a discount as it turns out that the place is run by an old friend (Anthony Wong).
It takes time for Ah Tao to get used to life in the nursing home but eventually she befriends a few of the residents there and slowly begins to recover. Roger visits her almost daily to make sure that she has everything she needs. When he travels to the Mainland, he also phones her.
Alone in his apartment and forced to do the things Ah Tao used to do, Roger slowly begins to realize how important she has been to his success and crucial for the balance he has been able to maintain in his personal life. When he visits her in the nursing home and talks to her about his family's past, Roger also begins to understand the enormous sacrifices she has made during the years so that he and his family could be happy. Meanwhile, Tao's condition deteriorates.
Based on events from the life of Hong Kong producer Roger Lee (Once Upon a Time in China), who co-wrote the script for the film with Susan Chan, A Simple Life was Hong Kong's official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 84th Academy Awards.
The film chronicles the final stage of the relationship between a master and his dying maid with appropriate for the subject respect. Small bits about their history together are revealed as they repeatedly meet in the nursing home and begin discussing the things they miss the most now that they are no longer together.
There are small flashes of humor that prevent the film from evolving into an overly sentimental melodrama. The best scenes feature a man from the nursing home who constantly asks friends and visitors to give him cash. When they do, he spends it on young escort girls.
Lau and Yip are fantastic together. Their conversations are simple and incredibly moving, at times reminding of the laidback but profoundly touching discussions between Shukishi and Tomi in Yasujiro Ozu's great film Tokyo Story. By the time the final credits roll, one definitely feels as if one has known both for years.
Sometimes these types of films could be incredibly difficult to endure, but I found myself thoroughly engrossed in Roger and Tao's story. It made me think for days about dear friends and family members who played an important part in my life. Superb film.
A Simple Life Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Ann Hui's A Simple Life arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Films.
Shot with the Red One Camera, A Simple Life looks simply astonishing on Blu-ray. During close-ups definition and clarity are very impressive, allowing one to see even incredibly small objects and facial details (see screencapture #1). Larger panoramic shots also boast tremendous depth, both during nighttime and daylight sequences (see screencaptures #3 and 18). Color reproduction is fantastic - there are beautiful warm and very natural blues, greens, grays, and browns; the blacks are lush and stable. There are no traces of problematic lab tinkering. Compression is also very good. Purely transfer specific anomalies, such as banding and aliasing, are also nowhere to be seen. To sum it all up, this is one of the very best presentations of a contemporary Hong Kong-made film that I have seen to date. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
A Simple Life Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Arrow Films have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track is excellent. Despite the fact A Simple Life is primarily a dialog-heavy feature, there is a very good range of nuanced dynamics. Law Wing-fai's soft ambient score is only occasionally felt, but the sequences where the music becomes prominent are indeed quite beautiful. The dialog is exceptionally crisp, stable, and very easy to follow. Also, there are no pops, dropouts, or distortions to report in this review. The English translation is very good.
A Simple Life Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
A Simple Life Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The success of Ann Hui's A Simple Life at various international film festivals is well deserved. Profoundly moving and expertly directed, this is indeed one of last year's best films. If your reside in a Region-B territory, I urge you to consider adding this beautiful Blu-ray release from Arrow Films to your collections. If you reside in North America, you should look at Well Go USA's upcoming Blu-ray release (see our listing here). VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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A Simple Life Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Ann Hui's A Simple Life Heading to Blu-ray - August 8, 2012
British distributors Arrow Films, in conjunction with Spirit Entertainment, will release on Blu-ray director Ann Hui's A Simple Life (2011), starring Andy Lau, Deannie Yip and Lawrence Ah Mon. The release will be available for purchase online and in shops across ...
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