Tuesday, June 26, 2012
A movie with a very touching story, so much that when reading reviews by most serious professional reviewers I found they tend to talk more about story than about movie, which is not common at all. Yes story is powerful, but I have to recognize that Ann Hui filmmaking and storytelling abilities plus outstanding performances by Deanie Ip and Andy Lau is what makes story and movie absolutely out of the ordinary.
But we have to recognize that story is so powerful also because is inspired on real-life events, the story of Hong Kong movie producer Roger Lee. This is poignant, bittersweet, heartwarming story is all about old age, about a lifelong life of caring and loving, about death and about the relationship between a man and his amah, a disappearing breed of domestic helpers who devote lifelong service to a single family. Some say that is a simple story and indeed it seems like, but to me story has many layers as nothing is simpler in a tale about a master and a servant, about a maid that takes more care of you than your own mother, a family member that is not recognized as such while serving you but that in this story gets recognition when she needs it most, in the twilight of her life. Beautiful story, very-well told that made me use a lot of tissues after feeling joy, happiness, and smiled with the subtle humor that is amazingly used to prepare viewers for the final farewell.
But film has impressive credentials with high production values, a director that excels when dealing with everyday reality and manages to extract from her leads award-winning performances from veteran Hong Kong actors that look and feel grounded in life and never forced. For some still unclear reason I tend to relate storytelling style more to Japanese cinema than Chinese as film style made me think of a few Japanese films that so beautifully deal with life and death.
As we know film premiered in competition at the 2011 Venice fest were won many accolades, including Deanie Ip wining the Volpi Cup for Best Actress and became Hong Kong submission to Oscar; but film, director and actors swept the most prestigious Asian awards.
You may say that this is a very local story belonging only to Chinese culture, but not me as I know that story applies to many cultures where live-in, in-house maids are a reality, like for example all countries in Latin America, a region where is still common to have had and have lifelong maids that care for several family generations but where is still sort of taboo to talk about this understated family member.
I strongly recommend film as must be seen but have to recognize that it may not be for everyone as believe that audiences from countries without maids, servants will not connect to story much, consequently will be hard for them to sustain the showing of everyday life little details for almost two hours.
I simply loved movie that touched me beyond what I could imagine and me using many tissues was a very positive, heartwarming experience as there is nothing more worth-feeling that movies that shake all your emotions.
Watch trailer @MOC