#REVIEW: “A SIMPLE FAVOR”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Within the first five minutes of A SIMPLE FAVOR, when Emily tells Stephanie that “Secrets are like margarine. Easy to spread. Hard for the heart”, truer words have never been spoken. Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a widowed Mommy Vlogger, over-extending her already busy days with taking on volunteer duties at her young son’s school. When she seeks permission from the parent of her son’s new friend for a play date, she meets Emily (Blake Lively), a high-powered, dressed to kill PR exec for a famous fashion designer. Stephanie is immediately mesmerized by this vodka martini-swilling, impulsive and profane “glamazon” and appears to be smitten with Emily’s handsome and easy-going husband Sean (Henry Golding). The two very different women strike up a friendship, which baffles everyone in their small suburban town. When Sean is away from the country for business, Emily asks Stephanie if she can do a simple favor and babysit her son as she was called away on urgent business matters. When Emily does not return and cannot be reached at all, Stephanie goes into full-blown Nancy Drew mode and investigates her disappearance.
Moving at a brisk, entertaining pace to a soundtrack of French pop songs, A SIMPLE FAVOR is a delicious modern take on the classic Film Noir genre, made better by director Paul Feig’s (Bridesmaids, Spy) expertise with wit and humour throughout. This Movie consistently delivers clever laugh out loud moments, as well as plausible plot twists and red herrings. Moreover, Feig brings out the best in everyone in this Movie.
No one plays “spunky” better than Anna Kendrick, but in A SIMPLE FAVOR, her spunkiness is a mask that hides deep, awful secrets of her own. With the exception of a poorly-executed sequence where Stephanie is being interrogated by a police officer while wearing one of Emily’s haute couture gowns, her transition from soccer mom to sleuth is stellar. Henry Golding shines as grief stricken husband who finds himself being attracted to Stephanie. Even in smaller roles, Rupert Friend (The Death of Stalin), Andrew Rannells (TV’s Girls), Jean Smart (three-time Emmy Award winner) and Dustin Milligan (Schitt’s Creek) register beautifully. But A SIMPLE FAVOR succeeds wildly due to Blake Lively. Best known for her role in the much beloved television show, Gossip Girl, her Movie performances in the past were always serviceable but unmemorable. Until now. She seems to channel Lauren Bacall’s femme fatale characteristics with Kathleen Turner’s smoldering sexuality, all the time making Emily fascinating to see and hear. It’s an impeccable, triumphant performance. This movie will make Blake Lively a star and a force to be reckoned with.
A SIMPLE FAVOR is a most welcomed addition to the missing wife movie genre. It’s stylish. It’s compelling. It’s funny. It’s twisted. It’s DELICIOUS.
Universal Pictures Canada release A SIMPLE FAVOR Friday, September 11, 2018.