A Simple Life Reviews
While it may not seem like much happens in "A Simple Life" with its deliberate and episodic approach, it is beneath the surface that it is mostly of interest. Namely, it is concerned with life in Hong Kong where as one character points out the population is getting older. On a general note, it is also about family and how it intersects with work, as Roger is about the only family Ah Tao has near her while Roger does seem a little spoiled for a man his age.
Throughout the film, neither Ah Tao nor Roger goes out of their ways to pursue and foster this relationship. They both continued to live their semi-separate lives, kept apart by the constraints of modern life in Hong Kong. And yet it was the small things they do to each other - not any heroic act or passionate expression - that are really meaningful. This makes the story very natural and true to our life.
In this story there is no villain. This should not be surprising. Villains are artificial constructs, and so deserve no place in a film that purports to be realistic. It is an illusion that evil deeds and bad events must be caused by villainous intentions. Most of the time they are caused by nature, social structure, and stupidity.
Above the level of personal relationship, "A Simple Life" also tells us how hard it is to be an old person in modern society. That the modern world is hostile to old people, and to family relationships, is not just conservative gibberish. It is a fact. (It need not be, but on the whole at present I think it is.)
Won the Best Actress Award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival