22nd Sep2018

‘A SImple Favor’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Joshua Satine, Ian Ho, Rupert Friend | Written by Jessica Sharzer | Directed by Paul Feig

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Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor is understandably an interesting direction for the director to take after a string of highly successful and critically acclaimed comedies. Deviating from the more traditional Feig style of over the top humour and marketed as a low-brow stylish thriller and only the second dramatic entry into his filmography after I am David in 2003, certainly got tongues wagging in the film hemisphere, considering the completely bizarre and ridiculous marketing, as well as the splendid cast list with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, but unfortunately the returns are a catastrophic bore.

The biggest compliment one can give is the terrific performance of Lively, who is gaining significant traction and plaudits with this specific role as if she’s never acted before, surprisingly so as Lively in the last decade has shown truly exceptional talent in numerous productions such as The Town and The Shallows in 2010 and 2016 respectively. Here she grasps the material with the strongest sarcastic, splashed with significant ultra stylish and provocative demeanour and attitude, resulting in a fabulous influx of fun and suggestable flavour in a mystery that doesn’t particularly entail any such engagement. Yet, certain critics, who revel in the prism of Film Twitter have made the bizarre and warped claim that Lively is deserving of an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal, and to that utter nonsense and foolishness, my retort would be to simply say – You’re a joke.

Speaking of story. The first act is amazingly inviting and absorbing with a wonderful sense of efficient mysticism and romanticism between the three leads, however, significantly derails when it commences to unravel and revel in the downright stupid and obtuse. Plot twists and turns begin to break off like that of an iceberg but juxtaposed with a significant mass above water that we can all see but the dangerous underbelly and size underneath is a small, insignificant and ineffective trial. Also having the strangely pathetic merit of having the audience actually in front of both the film itself and characters in terms of story and plot, ultimately nothing becomes atmospheric or interesting if the audience is one step ahead.

Feig also struggles to inject any form of an artistic impression in aesthetic or production design in the image on the screen. A notable cinematic trait most of his filmography has struggled with throughout his career. It’s all too mundane and dull. Colours pop undeniably, but everything looks plastic and artificial. Granted, one could argue this is inner contextual, however, it’s clearly not a conscious production design, considering how dull and glib Spy and Bridesmaids are and shot far too close to that of a format similar to that of Lifetime and TV, in which Feig honed his craft.

Conclusively, A Simple Favor feels simply and somewhat harshly, a naive and over-embellished replica and knock-off to that of Fincher’s Gone Girl. An example that feels slightly detrimental to the plaudits earned in the latter’s acclaim.

A Simple Favor is in cinemas now.

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