In A Simple Favor Anna Kendrick’s name hints that it might be a comedy while Blake Lively’s presence nods to mystery and brooding drama.
The director Paul Feig has noted in interviews that he was trying to revise the Alfred Hitchcock style (accumulated dread mixed with macabre winking) for today’s audiences. What Feig achieved is a mystery with some Hitchcock Vertigo homage, Billy Wilder Double Indemnity insurance intrigue and a lot of aimless Michaelangelo Antonioni L’Aventura style wandering about, mixed with rapid fire screwball comedy dialogue. It is a classic mess that doesn’t mesh well with Feig’s signature wit and sunny raucous style.
The Gone Girl style plot is easy to figure out, leaving some of the twists underwhelming. The last thirty minutes are so rushed that all the Kendrick and Lively bluffing and buildup is reduced to throw away gags.
Feig delivers some darkly funny stuff but not enough serious mystery. There is no Hitchcock bounce, just Feig wasting his voice on something that doesn’t suit his style.
A Simple Favor amuses but doesn’t bemuse. It is content to be soft and underplayed.