Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FILM REVIEWS -


ASINGLE mother and food blog­ger turns ama­teur sleuth to un­ravel the mys­tery of her best friend’s dis­ap­pear­ance in this sin­fully en­ter­tain­ing com­edy thriller.

Paul Feig, direc­tor of Brides­maids, The Heat and Spy, blends a fruity cock­tail of Hitch­cock­ian whodunnit and gnarly black com­edy, gar­nished with gen­er­ous twists of spite and be­trayal.

Think Gone Girl with killer one-lin­ers and per­fectly shaken mar­ti­nis and you’ll be close to the lip-smack­ing de­lights of a bat­tle of the sexes in small town sub­ur­bia, adapted for the screen by Jes­sica Sharzer from Darcey Bell’s novel.

Pitch Per­fect pow­er­house Anna Kendrick cap­tures the tics and tenac­ity of her so­cially awk­ward home­body, whose well-or­dered rou­tine is thrown into dis­ar­ray when the most glam­orous woman in town vanishes with­out trace.

She con­trasts sharply with Blake Lively’s lost ma­tri­arch, who makes her en­trance in lus­trous slow mo­tion, strut­ting el­e­gantly be­neath an um­brella dur­ing a tor­ren­tial down­pour dressed in a pin­stripe trouser suit.

Sharzer’s script is pleas­ingly self-aware as it ref­er­ences clas­sic thrillers to keep us guess­ing as to the spouse’s where­abouts.

“Are you try­ing to Di­abolique me?” Kendrick’s hero­ine asks the miss­ing best friend’s hus­band, re­fer­ring to Henri-Ge­orges Clouzot’s 1955 thriller in which a schem­ing wife and mis­tress con­spire to kill a cheat­ing hus­band.

Thir­tysome­thing widow Stephanie Smoth­ers (Kendrick) is de­voted to her young son Miles (Joshua Sa­tine) and she en­thu­si­as­ti­cally vol­un­teers for ev­ery af­ter-school ac­tiv­ity.

One day, Miles pleads with his mother to in­vite best friend Nicky (Ian Ho) over for din­ner. Nicky’s mother turns out to be im­pos­si­bly glam­orous PR direc­tor Emily Nel­son (Lively), who mas­ter­minds global cam­paigns for self-ab­sorbed fash­ion de­signer, Den­nis Ny­lon (Ru­pert Friend).

Emily takes a rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent ap­proach to par­ent­ing and she shocks Stephanie by telling Nicky that it isn’t con­ve­nient to spend the af­ter­noon with Miles be­cause, “mummy al­ready has a play­date with a sym­phony of an­tide­pres­sants”.

Un­ex­pect­edly, Stephanie be­friends Emily and meets the PR doyenne’s hus­band, Sean (Henry Gold­ing), who refers to his high-fly­ing wife as “a beau­ti­ful ghost”.

When Emily calls one af­ter­noon and asks Stephanie to pick up Nicky from school while she deals with an emer­gency, Stephanie gladly obliges. The pub­li­cist never re­turns to col­lect her son and Stephanie alerts the po­lice.

A Sim­ple Favour ric­o­chets mer­rily be­tween dark per­sonal con­fes­sions and en­er­getic ver­bal spar­ring as Stephanie dis­cov­ers she didn’t know her best buddy at all. Feig shows a deft touch be­hind the cam­era and he elic­its win­ning per­for­mances from the fe­male leads.

Gold­ing, re­cently seen in Crazy Rich Asians, is dreamy in un­der­writ­ten sup­port and An­drew Ran­nells is a hoot as one of the other par­ents, who ob­serves Stephanie’s en­ergy with dis­dain and jeal­ousy.

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