A Simple Life (Chinese: 桃姐; Jyutping: Tou4 Ze2), also known as Sister Peach, is a 2011 Hong Kong drama film directed by Ann Hui and starring Andy Lau and Deanie Ip. Ip, in the lead role of Sister Peach, won the Best Actress Award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. Originally, Hui considered retiring after making this film. However, due to the film's success, she changed her mind and is considering other projects.
Lau and Ip had not worked together since 1999's Prince Charming. Production of the film officially began during Chinese New Year. It was filmed in Mei Foo Sun Chuen. Production was wrapped on 6 April 2011 after two months of filming. The film competed in the 68th Venice International Film Festival. It was also selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards, but it did not make the final shortlist. A Simple Life was an official selection for competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, where it won 4 awards. Deanie Ip won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her role in this film. She is the first Hong Konger to win this prize. In March, she also became the first Hong Konger to win the Asian Film Award for Best Actress. At the same event, director Ann Hui became the first woman to win the Lifetime Achievement Award. At the 31st Hong Kong Film Awards Ceremony, A Simple Life won 5 major prizes (film, director, screenplay, actor, actress), repeating what happened with Hui's Summer Snow in 1996. Ann Hui has won Best Director (4 times) more than anyone else at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Ip is the oldest Best Actress recipient (64 years old at the time of her win).
Roger Leung (Andy Lau), an unmarried middle aged Hong Kong film producer lives with Chung Chun-to (Deanie Ip), a maidservant who has worked for his family for decades. Returning home after a business trip, Roger discovers Chung on the floor and calls for an ambulance. At the hospital, Roger discovers that Chung has had a stroke but rather than ask for rehabilitation, Chung decides she wants to retire and asks to be put in a nursing home. While looking for a nursing home Roger discovers one nearby that is owned by his friend. He installs Chung there and visits her in between his production jobs. While visiting To, he tells her friends and neighbours that he is her god son in order to explain their connection.
Visiting Chung in the nursing home allows Roger to become closer to her. Eventually, other members of his family, who mostly live abroad, come to visit her. Roger's mother proposes that they renovate an old apartment that the family owns and allow To to spend the remainder of her days there. However, Chung grows more sickly and suffers a second stroke causing her condition to deteriorate and nullifying the family's plans for her.
Eventually, Chung is hospitalized a final time and Roger makes the decision to allow her to die. At her funeral, the member's of Roger's family pay their respects to her and while Roger delivers the eulogy, a man from the nursing home comes to give her flowers.
Producer Roger Lee began writing loose fragments together and showed them to director Ann Hui. She persuaded him it was enough for a screenplay and encouraged him through his writing process.
Andy Lau and Deanie Ip were chosen in part because of their close relationship to one another as Ip is Lau's godmother and had already played his mother in several films.Andy Lau as Roger Leung (梁羅傑), a film producer
Deanie Ip as Sister Peach / Chung Chun-to (桃姐/鍾春桃), a servant
Wang Fuli as Roger's mother
Qin Hailu as Ms Choi (蔡姑娘), nursing home manager
Paul Chun as Uncle Kin(堅叔) a resident at the nursing home
Leung Tin as Headmaster (校長, a resident at the nursing home
Yu Man-si as Sharon, Roger's older sister
Eman Lam as Carmen. Roger's administrative assistant
Hui Pik-kei as Aunt Kam(金姨), a resident at the nursing home
Elena Kong as Aunt Kam's daughter
Jason Chan as Jason, Roger's nephew
Ho So-ying as Aunt Mui (梅姑), a resident at the nursing home
Anthony Wong as Grasshopper (草蜢), care home owner and Roger's old friend
Chapman To as a dentist
Raymond Chow as himself, one of the guests at film premier
Yu Dong as himself
Sammo Hung as himself
Tsui Hark as himself
Francis Mak as one of Roger's old classmates
Lawrence Lau as one of Roger's old classmates
Dennis Chan as Vincent
Ning Hao as himself, one of the guests at film premier
Lam Yee-nok as himself, the pastor at To's funeral
Gordon Lam as himself, one of the guests at film premier
Law Lan as herself, one of the guests at film premier
Jim Chim as one of Roger's old classmates
Tam Ping-man as himself, a visitor of the nursing home
Eva Lai as himself, a visitor of the nursing home
Kung Suet-fa as the nursing home receptionist
Queenie Chu as the receptionist at investment bank
Tyson Chak as Air-con fixer at investment bank
Hiromi Wada as visiting singer of the nursing home
Angelababy as herself, one of the guests at film premier
John Shum as himself, one of the guests at film premier
Stanley Kwan as himself, one of the guests at film premier
Andrew Lau as himself, one of the guests at film premier
In China, after being shown for only four days, the film made US$5.2 million and reached second place in the top gross film of the week ending 11 March 2012.
Roger Ebert gave the film 4 stars. He wrote, "It expresses hope in human nature. It is one of the year's best films." Hollywood Reporter 's Neil Young wrote that "Film festivals looking for undemanding crowd-pleasers will want to check it out, even at its currently excessive 118-minute running time – much too long for what is indeed a pretty "simple" affair." Variety 's Justin Chang commented: "Fittingly for a film about the challenges and rewards of looking after the sick and aging, this well-observed, pleasantly meandering dramedy requires a measure of patience, and some judicious trimming would improve its chances for export. But the moving, never tearjerking lead performances by Andy Lau and Deanie Ip are strong selling points for Hui's following at home and abroad."
The film has appeared on the following critics' top ten lists for the best films of 2012: