Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells
Director: Paul Feig
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: A SIMPLE FAVOR, a stylish post-modern film noir directed by Paul Feig, centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy blogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) in this thriller filled with twists and betrayals, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge.
The best way to describe A Simple Favor is if Paul Feig had directed Gone Girl, we would have ended up with A Simple Favor. This movie has the light-hearted comedic moments that Feig’s movies are known for, but it also has the crazy twists and turns that keep you guessing until the closing credits. While the film can be a little too absurd for its own good at times, an interesting story and a strong performance by Lively make A Simple Favor a movie on the upper end of the spectrum for 2018’s mystery movies.
The film follows Stephanie (Kendrick), a super-mom who becomes friends with Emily (Lively), a powerful executive, after their sons become friends at school. After Emily disappears one day, Stephanie sets out to find her friend and figures out details about her friend that makes her question whether or not their relationship was ever real in the first place. Starting with the performances, Lively is the true star of the film through her ability to showcase the events of her life that made her who she is today as well as challenge Stephanie’s worldview and her expectations of others. Lively is sarcastic, deceptive, and cold, but in the most interesting ways possible that elevate this movie and gave it the anti-hero/antagonist that we can root both for and against. Kendrick on the other hand, gives a performance like many of her previous roles. She plays a sweet, innocent woman who finally realizes the world is not what she sees it as, and while not exactly stellar in the role, Kendrick holds her own and never weighs down the film. Moving on to the story, the first two acts do an incredible job of setting up the world and showing us the stakes that the characters face with each decision. The stakes feel real and the way the plot moves along makes it easy to empathize with certain characters and how they can overcome the obstacles in their path. The third act, however, is very messy and organized. It feels as though they spent so much time setting up the film and then they never really knew how it should end. As the climax was happening, I was at a point where I felt very lost in the movie and did not know what was going on, and not in a way where it felt like it was twists throwing me off, but rather sloppy storytelling confusing me and the direction the film was trying to go. This is unfortunate, because up until that point, the story is very fluid and interesting, and to see it fall apart at the end when it could have ended on a more coherent note is disappointing. This is very balanced film in a sense that in the first two acts you have to pay attention to everything, as even the smallest lines of dialogue are connected to something that happens later on in an almost poetic fashion. To see many of these points end up not mattering the way they could have or not making complete sense in the end leaves me with a generally bad taste in my mouth after experiencing a movie that was clearly on the upper end of the scale for 2018 releases.
Overall, the foundation for an elite movie is there, and the actual movie itself is highly entertaining, but A Simple Favor is just too unorganized at the end for it to take the next step. This is a very slick and stylish film and has a great soundtrack as well, and with Lively stepping up in a role that I am not used to seeing her in, it made the film that much more enjoyable. This movie is definitely a change of pace from what we have seen over the last few months, and while it was definitely not perfect, I hope that we see more film like this as 2018 comes to a close.
Overall Score: 7.5/10