Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Simple Favor - Review

The modern definition of a noir doesn’t quite line up with the genre tropes of the past, pulling the dark, brooding protagonist into an equally dark, brooding world. But the noir films of old are not exclusively that, and often feature the comedic undertone that has somehow been lost along the way. With Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor, the wise-cracking comedy returns to a noir in fantastic fashion. 

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a mommy vlogger 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 stylish thriller filled with twists and betrayals, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge.

This is a film that on paper, feels outside of Feig’s wheelhouse. Known for his straight up comedies, director Paul Feig dips his toes into the secrets of suburban life gone wrong. He executes the mystery of these tangled lives with incredible effectiveness, without tossing his trademark jokes completely aside. 

Part of this success falls to casting two wonderful actresses in the lead roles. Both Kendrick and Lively are so invigorating and mesmerizing in different ways, a tool the film uses for numerous snappy scenes between the two. Kendrick gets the stay at home mom role as she chews up lines of dialogue, twirling them into an intricate web before they actually hit. And Lively gets the elegant “bad” mother, who contains enough melodramatic moments to fill a daytime soap opera.

The twists and turns of this new friendship are captivating for the sheer puzzle of where this may all be going. Watching Kendrick’s character Stephanie solve each new piece of information as the mystery unravels is as enjoyable as you’d imagine, and only elevated by the characters involved. The third act does resolve itself rather quickly, but until then A Simple Favor garners every ounce of your attention.

A Simple Favor doesn’t change the game for the noir genre, but it does show the Paul Feig can step outside his typical repertoire and produce a quality film. The lead performances from Lively and Kendrick are both enjoyable and fairly great for what they are. The film is an incredible amount of fun from top to bottom, proving even something that recognizes the absurdity of its own story can be great. 

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