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lunedì 19 marzo 2012

A Simple Life, by Ann Hui (許鞍華)

Today it is both my birthday and Father's day, so my little family had double celebrations. My daughter decorated our heart-shaped cheesecake before going to school, and afterwards she spent the afternoon at my parents' place, while Mum&Dad went to the cinema. We watched a new Hong Kong film by Ann Hui, called A Simple Life.

The film is based on the true story of Roger Lee (Leung), a film producer working between Hong Kong and Beijing, and his lifelong relationship with the amah (maid) who has worked in his family for 60 years. His family emigrated to the US and he is the only one staying in China. She has no relatives at all.
As the title suggests, the whole film is about the small, simple, heartwarming things of daily life: making food, eating together, cuddling the cat, opening old boxes where objects and photos are stored and sharing the waves of memories each of them carries. It is of course about the simple life of this woman, who has no family of her own but who is truly loved by everyone who has the chance to know her.
Everything is described with warm simplicity, day-to-day expressions of love and devotion are never annoyingly sentimental and yet succeed in making you participate with the characters's feelings. The film starts when Roger Leung is in his 30's and Chung Chun-tao n her 70's. We understand that he has suffered a stroke. They live together with a cat she cherishes and he is working on a film. On a day when Roger is out working she suffers a stroke too. As she wakes up in a hospital, she's hardly able to move but she seems to accept her new condition with strength and positive resignation. She decides to retire and move to a nursing home for elderly people.

The film follows the life of the old lady as she gradually gets to know the other patients, the Nurse supervising the place, and as she spends time with Roger who visits her as often as he can.
The film is obviously sad, yet in such a calm and serene way that it leaves a feeling of warmth and domestic intimacy, a sense of life flowing, old age and death being a natural part of its process.
A delicate film about growing and being old, about friendship, respect and gratitude, and about the big meanings hiding in small, ordinary things.

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