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|A Simple Favor|
dir Paul Feig
scr Jessica Sharzer
prd Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson
with Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Rupert Friend, Jean Smart, Dustin Milligan, Ian Ho, Joshua Satine, Kelly McCormack, Aparma Nancherla
release US 14.Sep.18, UK 21.Sep.18
18/US Lionsgate 1h57
A playdate ... with cocktails:
Lively and Kendrick
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This snappy, rather fiendish film combines a suburban parenthood comedy, a friendship drama and a Hitchcockian thriller. In other words, it plays straight to Anna Kendrick's strengths as an actor, and she shines in every scene. As does Blake Lively opposite her. So if you can accept the offbeat genre mash-up, it's shamelessly entertaining, packed with hilarious touches and some properly twisty suspense.
In Connecticut, Stephanie (Kendrick) is a widowed single mother with adorable preschool-age son Miles (Satine) and a mommy video blog that's gaining popularity. Then she meets Emily (Lively), the high-powered mother of Miles' best friend Nicky (Ho), who lives in a glassy mansion with her writer husband Sean (Golding). Then after a few weeks of bonding, Emily asks Kendrick to watch Nicky after school. And she simply vanishes. The police are no help, so Stephanie begins using her now virally increased viewership to help work out what happened.
From here the plot spins with implications and innuendo as Stephanie uncovers each piece of information, while unexpected things keep happening around her. Each revelation sends her off in another direction, all while she juggles her son, her vlog and each of the tasks she volunteers to do in the community. Intriguingly, neither Stephanie nor Emily seem to have ever had a best girlfriend before, so their sudden separation is remarkably emotional. And this adds layers of meaning to what happens in other relationships.
Both lead performances are nuanced and involving, frequently catching the audience off guard. Kendrick is her usual witty-likeable self with added young-mother attitude, blending efficiency with self-doubt as she discovers that she's rather good at sleuthing. By contrast, Lively is a riotous force of nature, as Emily loves to shock with a combination of over-sharing and brazen lies. Even before the plot begins its snaky machinations, it's easy to see why these two women are drawn to each other.
Like most of Feig's filmography, this is a female-driven movie with men lingering on the edges. As Emily's husband, Golding keeps the audience guessing about whether he knows what's happening. And Rannells is hilarious a a gossipy parent. But this is Kendrick and Lively's show, and both are almost criminally engaging, even when the plot itself loses its momentum. Together with Feig's witty direction and Sharzer's snappy script (plus a soundtrack filled with catchy French pop), this is one of those guilty pleasure movies that almost feels like it's too much fun.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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