DVD Review: A Simple Life

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If you ever wanted to see a movie about elder care that wasn’t a documentary. then “A Simple Life”–a copy of which our friends at Well Go Entertainment sent out our way for review–will fill this gap surprisingly nicely, even if you didn’t think it was there in the first place.

“A Simple Life” follows Roger, a successful movie producer, and his housemaid, Ah Tao. Ah Tao has been part of Roger’s family as nanny and maid for four generations’ worth of Roger’s family. That’s a long time to be around anyone, so in a greater sense, Ah Tao really has become part of the family. So you can just imagine what happens when Roger comes home one day to discover that Ah Tao has had a stroke. Now the woman who has cared for him–and his family–for four generations is unable to care for herself. Thus, Roger sets out to find a nursing home for his beloved nanny. Now, the man who was the object of Ah Tao’s kindness is now set to return it. But is he up to the task? Or will he fail the woman he’s known all his life?

There was once a Dilbert strip in which Dogbert set out to translate the remarks of film critics and translated “powerful performances” as “It’s a downer. Someone probably gets a disease and loses the farm.” Frankly, that was exactly what I was afraid of going into “A Simple Life”. It smacked of “powerful performances”. I mean, come on–longtime family friend and housemaid has a stroke, almost dies, and now the somewhat self-absorbed movie producer has to take care of her? How “Brady Bunch” can you get?–it screamed “downer” from the plot synopsis forward.

Thankfully, “A Simple Life” really wasn’t as depressing as I thought it would be. Sure, it was sad; you can’t watch a woman in her seventies come back from a stroke without feeling a little bad for her. But at the same time, Ah Tao desperately doesn’t want to be a burden–she spent her whole life being downright indispensable for Roger and his family for four generations–but circumstances have pretty much forced her to be reliant on others. That’s a big adjustment for Ah Tao to have to make, and it’s also a pretty big one for Roger, who has lived with Ah Tao and her skills.

Still, there’s something kind of inspirational about watching old men do tai chi in the early morning. It’s quite surprising; there are reminiscences in here, there’s inspiration to be had, an old woman with good memories and a young man becoming progressively more selfless as time goes along.  Sure, sometimes it’s sad stuff, but there’s also plenty of happy going on in here too. Some great laughs and a few sad moments to intermingle with the happiness makes for an overall very well put together package, like pretzels covered in chocolate, salt in the sweet.

Special features on this one will include a set of audio options, as well as English subtitles. Plus, there will be trailers for “A Simple Life,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Painted Skin: The Resurrection,” and “Ocean Heaven.”

“A Simple Life” is a fairly simple movie, but what’s contained under the simplicity is complex and surprisingly pleasant. It’s not going to be really exciting, but it’s going to be a good movie to settle in with on a cloudy day or the like. It’ll make you smile, it’ll make you cry a little, maybe, but it won’t really bore you, and by any measure, that’s pretty good.

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