Release: 21st January 2019
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
A stylish post-modern film noir directed by Paul Feig, centres around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy blogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) in this thriller filled with twists and betrayals, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge.
“Wipe that dribble from your chin!” No, this is not some purvey commentary on that girl-on-girl kiss, or a physical response to all those gins and yummy din-dins littering every scene. Instead, this is the involuntary spittle one finds trickling down the side of one’s mouth after awakening from a deep slumber. That is where A Simple Favour will put you; somewhere between utter boredom and REM sleep.
Setting itself up as sassy crime fiction, here is a flick so cavernously empty that it feels like the post-Twilight generation have hijacked the thriller genre. Parading as a bastard wannabe of 90’s teen drama Cruel Intentions, A Simple Favour wants to have its mundane cake and snog it; flitting between more moods than a spotty Harry Enfield character, with zero plot, while expecting you to grant it merit because it is ‘snarky’. You couldn’t label this as a punchy pastiche of the female experience, because it is too crummy. You couldn’t label this a film noir, because the central mystery has none. And you couldn’t call this a comedy, because, well, it simply is not funny. What A Simple Favour proves itself to be is all the crap stuff that didn’t make it into Big Little Lies. Where Lies is an elegant, witty and dazingly dramady, A Simple Favour isn’t. Granted Big Little Lies has loftier goals and is made with the intent of being taken seriously, A Simple Favour seems to have no ambition other than to turn Blake Lively in to an inferior Diane Keaton and to keep Anna Kendrick busy until the next chance to sing arises.
There is such a monumental waste of talent and opportunity here, that one cannot help assume that on paper, A Simple Favour was a much better film. From a soundtrack that fizzes with an urbane French attitude, to its Bauhaus architecture, everything about A Simple Favour says that, like Blake Lively, it wants to effortlessly dazzle us; whilst saying something about something. We just don’t know, or at least care, what that is. The politest comparison one might make is with that of the Desperate Housewives of Wisteria Lane. And like those characters, companionship and trust seem to be central themes here. Some might see the superficiality of their own friendships mirrored in Stephanie and Emily, while others could potentially find some element of charm in Kendrick’s nebbish supermum. But for those of us who like a little configuration below the surface, the only simple favour we ask here is that someone turn this crap off.
Film Grade: E
There is so much to dive in to here. From behind the scenes to EPKs. There are multiple commentaries and some talking heads. There is even a gag reel. Paul Feig is not a director in the sense that, say, Spielberg or Tarantino are directors, but he understands his craft and his film; so you’ll find plenty to enjoy if you liked the film.
Special Features Grade: C+
Some people liked. I have no earthly idea why, but they did. Guess the only way to know for yourself is to watch it.