Blake Lively & Anna Kendrick team up with director Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Bridesmaides) for a comedic dark thriller that delivers on of the surprise hits of the year and cements Feig’s place as a brilliant director who has solidly delivered hit after hit. The film constantly had me guessing where it was going to go, and while some of the twists are predictable, the film delivers some solid laughs, shocking moments and outstanding performances.
Kendrick plays Stephanie, a widowed single mother with her son Miles. She has a mummy vlog and is always volunteering at the school. She meets Emily (Lively) when Miles and her son Nicky want to have a play date. Emily is the complete opposite with an inner city job, perfect clothers, gorgeous mansion and artist husband Sean (Henry Golding). One afternoon Emily calls Stephanie to pick Nicky up from school and is still missing three days later. As the film delves more into the lives of both Stephanie and Emily more is revealed about their lives everything is not as perfect as it seems.
The standout thing about this film is the chemistry between Kendrick and Lively. As they flip between comedy, thriller and bitchy drama, it rarely stops for a breath. Henry Golding also has a meatier role in this film compared to Crazy Rich Asians so it is also good to see his flexing his acting chops a bit more. The child actors for both children are also of high calibre which helps sell the family dynamic.
It’s good to see a darker side to Feig’s directing as the film doesn’t hold any of his trademark zippy quirks. The humour does resemble Bridesmaids at times but quickly shifts gears when the more serious tone and themes set in. The film felt like a parody of films like Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train and purely because of the ridiculosness of some scenarios and the shocking comedic moments that are littered throughout the film. Some critics have called this a ‘confusing tonal shift’ it actually works really well.
A Simple Favour seems to be coming out at the perfect time at the end of the big summer blockbuster movies. It has enough charm and wit to set the screens alight while using outstanding performances from the entire cast, something that movies of this type usually falter with. The movie wraps up with a larger than life, outlandish sequence that may take some people out of the movie, but for myself it really showcased just how wildly funny and intelligent this adaption is.
A Simple Favour is showing Australian cinemas now.
Review by Alaisdair Leith.