A Simple Favor (M18)
Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding
Directed by Paul Feig
If you’ve seen the movies of director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy, Ghostbusters), he tells funny and oftentimes poignant stories of female friendships, the good, the bad and the ugly. And he continues that proud tradition with his latest albeit with mixed results.
Anna Kendrick, chirpy and spunky as usual, stars as Stephanie, a suburban single mum and vlogger who plays amateur sleuth to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her Martini-sipping best friend Emily (Blake Lively, revisiting Gossip Girl’s privileged and bratty Serena).
As she digs around, Stephanie realises that her so-called BFF isn’t who she says she is. Some pal she turns out to be.
The movie, adapted from the novel of the same name by Darcy Bell, starts off as a fun satirical jab at suburbia living but loses it bearing when it segues into the domains of a serious psychological thriller a la Gone Girl.
There are a few laughs along the way (some courtesy of Girls’ Andrew Rannells as a suburban parent) but they are soon overshadowed by the dark and sinister revelations, including one — unveiled during a drinking game — so disturbing that it sucked the joy from the rest of the movie, leaving a weird aftertaste.
As Emily’s hunky British author husband Sean, Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding is undeniably charming but also kinda flat. He doesn’t leave a lasting impression even though he shares many scenes with Kendrick and Lively. Can’t blame him. The ladies’ chemistry is so overpowering that he gets pushed to the background. Then again, his blankness does the mystery a big favor: it throws the viewer off the scent of his involvement in the greater scheme of things.
But you know who really makes an impression? Rupert Friend, the brooding Homeland star. He kills it in just one scene as Emily’s boss, a smarmy Tom Ford-esque designer named Dennis Nylon. What a hoot. (***)
Photo: Lionsgate/Golden Village