Wednesday 26 September 2018

Film Review: A Simple Favour

Slick, sexy and sorta silly, Paul Feig's A Simple Favour is a surprise hoot.

With its jazzy intro, Saul Bass-inspired title credits, a complex zig-zagging plot and an enigmatic Hitchcockian blonde at its core, A Simple Favour posits itself as a contemporary noir thriller with a lick of melodrama. Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters), the film centres around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and Emily (Blake Lively), two mums who couldn't be more different if they tried.

Stephanie is a sweet, attentive single mother who runs a vlog all about cooking and homemaking from her pristine kitchen. Emily is a hotshot fashion exec who dresses sharp, talks fast and loves nothing more than enjoying a crisp martini after picking up her son Nicky from school. The two polar opposites strike up a friendship, but Stephanie soon realises there is more to the enigmatic Emily than meets the eye. When she goes missing, Emily's husband Sean (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians) is suspect numero uno – but Stephanie starts to think there may be more too it than the police think. 

A Simple Favour is frisky Saturday night fare aimed exclusively at adults, which in a landscape dominated by superhero films and lacklustre crude comedies, is a breath of fresh air. Chilling and compelling without lacking the laughs, Feig relishes the opportunity to jump around and do something a little different to his usual fare alongside Melissa McCarthy. 

Gun to my head, I'm not sure if I'd be able to adequately explain or unpack all the twists and turns in the third act. It's an irreverent series of loop-the-loops reminiscent of that episode of Community where Jeff enrols in Professor Professorson's conspiracy theories class and everyone can't stop stabbing each other in the back ("I wish this hoodie was a time hoodie!").

Thing is, Feig leans into this zaniness with his tongue planted firmly in cheek. The cast is having equally as much fun strutting around and milking the concept for all its worth, particularly Lively, who demonstrates a penchant for comedy. Kendrick is excellent also, with her deft blend of naivety and sweetness suiting her character down to the ground. Henry Golding, a highlight of last month's Crazy Rich Asians, is great here as well.

The Verdict: 8/10

Awash with mystery, intrigue and vigour, A Simple Favour is a suave, sexy and somewhat silly affair that knowingly toys with convention en route to a nutty third act filled with more left turns than the Indy 500.

A Simple Favour is in cinemas across Australia now.

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