A Simple Favour is not only entertaining but engaging, edgy and cool. From the opening French New Wave credits and catchy soundtrack, this Hitchcock homage is a distinctly stylised thriller.
Paul Feig – writer and director of Bridesmaids – is for many an acquired taste. His reboot of Ghostbusters with a completely female cast bar Chris Hemsworth, was derided by many, dismissed by others and occupies an interesting middle ground for most upon reflection. My knowledge of Feig is sparse and other reviews for A Simple Favour have been mixed meaning I was preparing to be underwhelmed.
Happily however A Simple Favour was not only entertaining but engaging, edgy and cool. From the opening French New Wave credits and catchy soundtrack, this Hitchcock homage and distinctly stylised thriller drew me in. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively spark off each other while Henry Golding works well as a scheming husband. Although Lively gets the showier part it is Kendrick who offers up more layers as this film progresses.
There is no denying that this is a chic piece of filmmaking and both ladies take the lead making this a film of two halves. By turns manipulative, sassy, sexy and devious, the two protagonists Stephanie and Emily make for a formidable tag team. Both have fun playing against type while Kendrick’s awareness come those end credits is a sight to see. With barbed dialogue exchanges, multiple conspiracy theories and carnal shenanigans aplenty this has something for everyone.
Screenwriter Jessica Sharzer is in complete control from the get go but somewhere around the mid-way point things lose their edge. Thriller tropes start crawling out of the woodwork and formula soon provides us with some unwelcome intrusions. All the good work established in those first forty five minutes gets diluted down as this film begins to be unsure of itself. A few tonal shifts creep in which make it unclear what the film is trying to be. Feig does well with the locations and creates a tangible sense of dread in certain scenes, but by counterbalancing that with unnecessary comedy other elements suffer.
That aside, A Simple Favour showcases some solid performances from both female leads and an underused supporting cast. It shows a side to both which broadens range and adds depth, whilst illustrating in Paul Feig a subtlety of touch and diversity which others would do well to exploit in future.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Paul Feig
Written by: Jessica Sharzer
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells
A Simple Favour is out now on Digital Download, DVD, Blu-ray™ and 4K UHD.