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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

TOU ZE / A SIMPLE LIFE (2011)

More like a deceptively simple life. Using well-known actors in Neo-Realistic terms, but with a compressed timeline, acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui charts the last act of nanny & housekeeper Ah Tao (Deanie Ip), 60 years & four generations with one family. Most of her old charges have dispersed to other cities, but she still is taking care of Roger (Andy Lau), a busy, successful film producer. He appears to take her (and her many duties) for granted, but when Ah Tao suffers a stroke, beginning a long slow decline, in spite of modest temporary improvements, he is there for her; the bond of family, even surrogate family, always present, if not always in plain sight. Small details in her relationships with other family members, some of whom return to visit, along with residents & staff at her moderately depressing nursing home, hold surprising interest, brought off without maudlin sentimental stroking. Hui lets any tears come honestly in their turn, using an easy technique that incorporates a closely held POV, briskly abstracted thru linear jumps forward without warning. A lovely, heartfelt film that makes you want to see more Hui, though hopefully without so many uncomfortably over-lit interiors.

SCREWY THOUGH OF THE DAY: Andy Lau is classic Hong Kong, but that nose is strictly French New Wave.

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