A Simple Favor
Director: Paul Feig.
Comedy director Paul Feig, best known for funnies like Bridesmaids, Spy and the recent Ghostbusters reboot moves to something a little darker; and we’re not just talking about a tad bit darker, so you shouldn’t walk in with expectations off the back of his precious filmography.
It’s a film based on a titular, debut novel by Darcey Bell published last year, a twisty, quirky, though brighter thriller that’s in the same vein of The Girl On The Train and Gone Girl. But what Feig brings to the overall story is his sharp, perfectly timed direction that almost makes this a dark comedy without losing any of its intrigue and seriousness.
Unlike the novel, the film focuses on Stephanie’s narrative, a busy-body, do-gooding single mother who, whilst busy with parenting her son, hosts a mom’s vlogging channel on YouTube uploading videos on brownie recipes, school project ideas and health and safety for kids parties. She inadvertently, makes the acquaintance of Emily, a power hungry, career person who clearly takes no shit from anyone and would appear to be Steph’s complete opposite. Fast forward a week and Emily, Steph’s now best friend disappears after asking her for that simple favour of babysitting Emily’s son. Being the concerned and possibly nosy person that Steph is, she embarks on her own investigation into the disappearance of her best friend, vlogging updates almost the entire time.
Whist it’s not wholly unpredictable, it does have a good amount of shocking revelations and we dig into, not just Emily’s, but Stephanie’s secrets too. Some with Fieg’s inappropriate comical effect; you might question yourself for laughing in the end. Especially with the switching and conflicting narrative which appears to be all the rage right now in Hollywood, allowing the audience to believe what they want to, setting doubt and mystery into the mix.
Kendrick is perfect as the polite and innocent Stephanie and does well to balance out Lively’s Emily, whose attitude seems to gravitate towards her real husband’s Deadpool, being carefree and sarcastic with absolutely no filter whatsoever. It’s their blossoming friendship that sets a wonderful chemistry and loving contrast of characters with Stephanie being the impressionable, considerate, careful natured mom, mingling with the forthright, empowering and flamboyant Emily. Still not quite sure with Henry Golding, who’s the weakest link here, but I still enjoyed watching him, as I did with Crazy Rich Asians and impressed to see him getting so much screen time.
A lot of work has gone into making this film look the part, the different styles and personalities of the character’s homes, the fashions; kudos to the wardrobe department and costume design; though I can’t see it getting any Oscar nominations, but it has to be noted, Emily’s character in particular is dashing and very much chichi. Even Shapiro’s elegant and rather enchanting score with the accompanying chic, French soundtrack enforces the story’s faddish style.
Overall it’s a real mixed bag of emotions loaded with plot twists and gawping revelations, that’s nicely put together with Fieg’s comical timing. An impressive, fun twister thriller.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 8
The Extra Bonus Point: 0