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Soundtrack review: A simple favor (Theodore Shapiro – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: A simple favor (Theodore Shapiro – 2018)

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“A Simple Favor” is a 2018 American mystery film directed by Paul Feig from a screenplay by Jessica Sharzer, based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. The film stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding and Andrew Rannells, and follows a small-town blogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend. Theodore Shapiro wrote the score.

The opening, title cue introduces an old friend that doesn’t come to visit much lately: that sound that sits and laughs sarcastically right on the edge between dark and comedic, a lighter version of the sound I usually hear in Coen brothers movies and a livelier, more varied version of the sound Alexandre Desplat writes for Wes Anderson movies. “A simple favour” is written in that vein, both elegant and evil; in this score I can sense a malicious presence which is in the same time fascinating and, at some points, lovable. I think the closest resemblance is Gabriel Yared’s “The talented Mr. Ripley” from many years ago. It’s a composition I easily get lost in, velvety, riddle like and I don’t even notice the passing from one cue to the next as I am immersed in the musical mystery. There is a main theme I first notice in the opening cue, a simple piano variation built like a question mark that sneaks back in quite often throughout the score up to the point where it’s played on a harpsichord I think in “Grim news”.

There’s something soothing, almost hypnotic about this album; the mix of live instruments and electronic sounds works very well and there’s always something glimmering in the score, like a chime, or a bell, instruments are being struck together to make these positive sounds that break the mystery every now and then. And once again that main theme or should I say main motif since it’s so short, comes up even in chiming form to anchor the score. This is the kind of minimalistic music I simply absorb; don’t look for highlights or memorable cues because “A simple favour” is all about the texture, the smooth, silky quiet texture that becomes quite addictive as the score progresses.

“A simple favour” is the perfect minimalistic thriller score I didn’t know I was looking for; it is fascinating from beginning to end and the kind of score that does not need the support of the images to be rewarding. I enjoyed the story it told me, I got list in it often and I am curious as to which nuances I am going to discover when I will listen to it again.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Highlights:
A Simple Favor
Dark Side
Grim News
I Saw My Mom / Ring Flashback
Born Rotten
Three-Way
Sorry Not Sorry

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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