A Simple Life may have one of the most accurate titles in all of cinema, as the film has a bracingly casual sense of day-to-day working-class life that recalls the films of Jean Renoir or, more recently, Olivier Assayas.
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A deceptively simple film, gingerly peels layer after layer of sharp insights into the dynamics of familial love, using compassion and droll humor as its tools. Its strength is that it manages to tap genuine emotion without succumbing to sentimentality.
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.
The movie is often poignant but leavened with humor.
A Simple Life is a tear-jerker, but thoughtful and intelligent, with an anti-sentimental dimension.
Ms. Hui, a rare successful female director in the Hong Kong film industry, drew her story from real events, and the movie retains a tonic flavor of the everyday: its drama unfolds simply, without explosive moments but not without emotion. She and her two excellent leads keep the film buoyant.
The movie has an emotional payoff I failed to anticipate. It expresses hope in human nature. It is one of the year's best films.
Director Hui shows a different side to Hong Kong cinema in a tender drama that's illuminated by the marvellous Ip.
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.