The 31st Hong Kong Film Awards have just been announced tonight with A Simple Life scooping up most of the sought-after awards including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor (Andy Lau), Best Actress (Deanie Ip) and Best Screenplay. Congrats to Ann Hui and her team! It is no coincidence that all 450 seats were filled at the free screening of A Simple Life that Reel Asian co-hosted last Tuesday.
While this film was dazzling critics abroad, on more humble carpets this morning I went to A Simple Life with my mom, dad and 90-year-old Grandma at AMC Kennedy Commons. Although it was an early morning screening (anything before noon is ‘morning’ in my books), the Scarborough theatre had a decent turnout with approx 80 people – all Asian and most of them over the age of 40 (except me). Once the lights dimmed, Dr. Seuss’ Lorax appeared on screen to remind us to turn off phones and refrain from unneighbourly disturbances. Of course, this didn’t stop the audience from giving a running commentary during the entire movie.
Man in front: “Is that a fat cat or a small dog?” (when Ah Tao is petting her cat KaKa)
Women behind me: “Ah Tao can’t peel the orange herself, help her” (when Roger asks why Ah Tao is not eating her orange in the hospital)
Mom beside me: “Oh no the other nursing home residents are gonna drink her birds nest soup” (when Roger and his mom bring Ah Tao soup)
Uncle yappy in the 4th last row: “Wai? Oh yes I can talk…” (while he engages in a 2 min conversation using his outside voice)
Nevertheless, after seeing this film for the second time I am still as touched as I was the first time – that Ann Hui tackled such a universal story (not only for HK families who have taken in maids from China, but for families who have aging parents everywhere) and that she did so without glorifying the sentimental relationship between Roger and Ah Tao. For many, it will be too easy to watch this at home – but why sit on the couch when you can watch this on the big screen with the same familiar chatter of 80 of your closest uncles and aunties? Trust me, it’s an experience worth paying for…well, maybe minus uncle yappy.