A Simple Life

LetterboxD review link

I had a friend growing up, A, who had a live in maid that raised him, J. I spent a lot of time with A, our families were close, so I was basically raised by her too. We spent a lot of time making trouble for her and eating food she made for us. J was undoubtedly part of A’s family. I left India at 10 and never saw J since. We talked on the phone with her once. I also lost touch with A. That’s how childhood friendships go sometimes.

Roger and Ah Tao’s relationship reminded me a lot of A and J. I wonder if A would be as loving and caring as Roger was. I would like to think that he would.

This movie did a great job keeping its restraint, not erring on the side of high dramatics, relying on its very talented main actors and using the scenery of Hong Kong, the tone of colors the cityscape provided and conversational dialog to move things along.

This wasn’t the right place or the right mood but I couldn’t help but think about that despite how much love Roger has for Ah Tao and generally how well his family treats her, it saddens me that we live in a world where she remains a maid, never getting the chance to pursue her own career, family or home. We have to believe, almost immediately, in the capitalist project in order to see the main relationship in this movie as one characterized by love and generosity instead of imbalanced power and Marxist alienation. Given how entrenched in the capitalist project our world is, especially a place like Hong Kong, that’s not much of a leap. I’d love to see a version of this movie in which Roger and Ah Tao are actually equals, not just in each other’s eyes but in society’s eyes.