A simple favor

Paul Feig focuses again on a story that explores, through comedy, the nuances and complexities of female relationships. But this time, with A small favor, Spy also director: a clueless spy ventures into the unknown terrain of the thriller, and the result is a film that finds an exceptional meeting point between suspense and acid comedy.

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is the perfect mom. Devoted mother and crafts vlogger, Stephanie is a passive and innocent woman. Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) is the opposite. Nelson - disgraced and highly manipulative - is a successful business woman, but a somewhat deranged mother. The life of both women takes a 180º turn when Emily asks Stephanie to pick up her son from school, and disappears without a trace. Stephanie is given the task of solving the mystery, and with the help of other mothers who see his vlog and the complicity of Sean (Henry Golding), Emily's husband, discover a dark story full of secrets and lies.

Based on Darcey Bell's self-titled bestseller of 2017, one of the film's greatest successes is the balance that Feig and screenwriter Jessica Schrazer achieve between the psychological suspense and mystery characteristic of a thriller with comedy. A small favor is not one of these tapes that at moments presents something of suspense and then move on to a comic scene. The film organically interweaves these two factors at all times and grows and nurtures them in parallel along the length of the film that unleashes laughter and exclamations of amazement alike.

The film has provoked multiple comparisons with the film noir because of the way it constructs Emily's case, the cynicism of its characters and the archetype of the femme fatale. What is interesting is that he manages to implement these elements in a context that does not belong at all to the film noir, as it is a suburb in the United States in the superficial era of the internet and vloggers. In this same way, the model of the fatal woman in this story takes a few licenses and becomes something peculiar. While Emily is the epitome of this type of character with her brazen attitude, dazzling costumes and a magnetic stage presence, at the end of the day, Stephanie also becomes a femme fatale (even more lethal) in her own way. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively stand out in their performances, and the dumbbell they achieve thanks to their contrasting personalities and personal travel of each of their characters is a great inducement of the film.

The story of Emily's disappearance is not particularly original. Although the first act of the film catches you and keeps you on the edge of the seat, this factor gradually loses its effect as the truth comes to light and invariably falls into cliché. However, it is the comedy that ironically adds a deeper texture and complexity to an average mystery. This factor, coupled with the multiple twists in the final explosive - which despite being extremely unlikely genuinely surprise the audience - make this feature film another Paul Feig triumph.

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