A Simple Favour (2018) Review

From the opening strains of Jean Paul Keller’s “Ca S’est Arrange”, you can practically feel Paul Feig donning on a black turtleneck and slipping into auteurship with a mischievous sense of insouciance. He’s in playful mood indeed as he indulges his inner Hitchcock even as he can’t quite resist giving in to his quirky comedic instincts.

When mom-blogger Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is brought together with glamorous Emily (Blake Lively) by their sons’ playdates, it seems to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But Emily is not only glamorous, she’s mysterious, secretive and capricious. When Emily suddenly disappears, Stephanie and Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) find themselves growing closer as they try to unravel the mystery.

Stepping behind the camera for his first feature since 2016’s divisive “Ghostbusters”, Feig sets out his stall to deliver a ‘Prestige’ dramedy, adapting Darcey Bell’s novel of the same name into a slick and glossy murder mystery which looks like it was lifted right from the pages of a high-end lifestyle magazine.

Anna Kendrick riffs cleverly on her eminently likeable screen presence, adding some dark shadows beneath her chirpy façade but its Blake Lively who really impresses, imbuing Emily with an irresistible air of mystery and unpredictability. Rising star Henry Golding adds even more ambiguity to this twisty-turny thriller as Emily’s husband and there’s a fun trio of fellow schoolyard parents who act like a sardonic Greek chorus, commenting on the burgeoning BFF-ness of Stephanie and Emily in a fun subversion of the school run politics.

It all adds up to a fun ride, a rollercoaster of twists, revelations, betrayals and reveals wrapped up in a polished, post-modern film noir designer gown, expertly accessorised with an array of quirky characters and tantalising red herrings.