Wednesday, May 01, 2013

"A Simple Life": Chinese film shows kindness overdone

If there was ever a film about gratuitous kindness in an eldercare environment, it has to be “A Simple Life” (of “Sister Peach” or “Tao Jie”) , a film made in Hong Kong (and Beijing) by Ann Hui.
For some generations since WWII, Ah Tao (orphaned during the Japanese occupation of China) has kept house and taken care of the children of movie producer Roger (Andy Lau). She is part of the family and a particularly favorite companion of the family cat.  One day, she suffers a stroke.  After recovery, she says she wants to live in an old folk’s home (assisted living center).  She moves in, and the movie has some touching scenes about the social interaction among the elderly (as at dinner) in the home.  (I’m reminded of “Quartet”.)  But Andy wants to visit her, and have her return so he can return the caregiving.  She resists.  She is uncomfortable with receiving so much personal attention when she really needs it.
Strokes are often followed by more strokes, and that may be in the offing here.
The film does show a little bit of the internals of the film business overseas, and the concerns about raising investor money and even possible censorship.
The film is produced by “Focus Films” in part.  Is that Focus Features?  Why isn’t Focus the distributor.  Instead, the distributor for the Netflix DVD  is “China Lion”.  Bona International is also visible.
The official site is here

The film is largely in Cantonese.  The pace is gentled, without surprises.  But the film did not generate a lot of buzz in the US in 2012.  It probably should have (from Universal and Focus in the US). 

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