Aida Vucic| 15/09/2018
Funny, thrilling and bonkers in just the right amounts, A Simple Favour hits all the right buttons.
Widowed mother Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) runs a flailing vlog for mothers, as she lives off the ever-dwindling insurance money of her late husband. One day at school, she meets the mother of one of her son’s friends; the effervescent Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). Emily is a high-flying PR rep for a major fashion brand. She lives in an insanely beautiful house, with her wunderkind author husband Sean (Henry Golding). The two women hit it off, and quickly become firm friends, spilling secrets to one another; right up until Emily asks Stephanie for ‘a simple favor’ before disappearing. Now, Stephanie begins digging to try and find her friend, in the process discovering that maybe she didn’t know that much about Emily to begin with.
Paul Feig perfectly blends the right amounts of comedy, romance, film noir and thriller in A Simple Favour. He also lavishes it in undeniable style, creating an immensely watchable piece of cinema that consistently hits the right tone.
He is ably aided by his two leading ladies, who both give tremendous performances. Kendrick brings her relatability and comedic chops to the role. While Stephanie is very much a caricature of an over-eager mum, Kendrick manages to give her a bit of a rebellious edge that is both welcome tonally, and sets up the finale in a somewhat believable way. Comparatively, Lively is playing the tall, strutting PR boss lady and nails it to a tee. She is immensely enviable; a statuesque, foul-mouthed femme fatale with a wardrobe that drops jaws.
Indeed, without giving too much away, the secret side of Emily gives Lively a chance to play very much against type, and she nails it. The juxtaposition of her in these two capacities is a testament to her immense talent.
This updated take on the film noir is filled with memorable side characters outside of our main duo too. Golding, who along with his performance in Crazy Rich Asians is taking Hollywood by storm right now, is fantastic, and both Andrew Rannells and Bashir Salahuddin are hilarious.
If the plot is at times too fanciful, and the finale almost wholly unbelievable, it doesn’t really matter. This isn’t a crime caper how-to guide; it’s entertainment, and what Feig (along with his tremendous creative team) has done here is give us just that. It’s laugh out loud funny, full of intrigue and a smart, stylish, modern update on the noir genre.
Do yourself a favor; go see A Simple Favour.