When it was announced that Paul Feig, a filmmaker renowned for comedies was making a ‘serious film’, it raised a few eyebrows. Could the director who made Bridesmaids bring us something delightfully dark, twisted? The answer is…Yes, its called A Simple Favour!
When any director steps out of their comfort zone, curiosity always kills the cat. Can Feig stay away from his comedic tropes? No. Does it ruin this film? No. A marriage of darkly humorous, perverse thriller that will hit you with malice whilst you sip your Martini.
A Simple Favour is based on a Darcey Bell novel of the same name. We first meet Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) a Mummy Vlogger, a prudish woman. Who loves to share her thoughts through her website, the latest recipes, crafts and parental experiences. Whilst she’s not on video, she seems to overtake tasks at her Son’s school at the annoyance of the other parents.
It’s at that school she meets Emily (Blake Lively), an uber-stylish fashionista who seems to have more time for her fashion designer client than her son. Both their boys are playmates and Emily says ‘Mummy Needs A Drink‘ The Mums head home for Martinis. a day of expletives, truth and dares Stephanie now has opened up. Secrets come out, a little too many from Stephanie, Emily doesn’t care she now has a baby sitter.
Out of the blue, Emily calls Stephanie asks her for ‘A Simple Favour‘ to pick up her son look after him for a couple of hours. A night passes, then a second one comes and goes, now Stephanie calls Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding). ‘What’s Happened To Emily?‘ Has she become a pawn in a higher stakes game of lies and deception?
From the cinema reviews , this film was been touted as just another ‘Gone Girl’. It does share elements of the film, but to call it a rip-off or ‘poor man’s’ was unfair. The ‘what Happened To Emily?‘ slogan was a masterstroke which gave the film a enigmatic edge. Blake Lively herself joined in on the publicity, by unfriending everyone on her Instagram account. It left some thinking their was actually something not right here.
The trailers for the film played its alluring, twisted, trashy tone. The score however was essentially Kitsch, French poppy tunes that teased the film also has a fun playful side too.
A Simple Favour‘s strength is actually its weakness. Many critics didn’t like the fact the film didn’t really know what type of film it wanted to be. Was it a Comedy? Crime Drama? Murder She Wrote Style TV Crime drama? Erotic Thriller? or Film Noir? Paul Feig does throw in a few red herrings in our way, which leaves you wondering what may happen next. He truly wants you to enjoy the ride and don’t take anything seriously.
Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are the star attractions of the film. Their chemistry is electrifying and they seem to bounce off each other perfectly. They do keep you intrigued, Stephanie is submissive, passive. Emily is the polar opposite, like an Alpha female who is riding high in a male dominated world. Not scared to fight dirty or take control, someone you want to invest in when she goes missing.
Emily is also the key to unlock that door to another world Stephanie wants to escape too. A world to escape that domestic bliss and Motherhood she thinks society believes she should adhere too. As she plays along, it becomes blatantly obvious she is lonely, crying out for friendship possibly even more. We know this not just from the parent’s at her son’s school but how easily she opens up to Emily.
Stephanie becomes seduced and sucked into Emily’s master plan not realising she has been exploiting her trust. When it’s too late, she starts to think she might be a patsy to something sinister when she abandons her son.
A Simple Favour is an unapologetic fun ride. Just when you think you have solved whats going on, another clue is waiting for you around the corner. An sophisticated stylish film that’s outrageously silly and sexy that could easily be from a page or scene from an Jackie Collins novel or Hitchcock film. A film that doesn’t take itself seriously, just a film that wants to entertain. Mummy needs a drink, go get her one and jump onboard!
Paul Devine | [rating=4]
Crime, Drama, Comedy | USA, 2018 | 15 | 21st January 2019 (UK) | Blu-Ray, DVD | Lionsgate Films HE | Dir.Paul Feig | Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Ian Ho, Joshua Satine