A Simple Favor
Superhero movies have conquered Hollywood. That isn’t an exaggeration. What began as an experiment online several years ago with the likes of Spider-Man, Blade Runner 2049 and Avengers: Infinity War has exploded into a full blown genre. As a result, the people who choose to see A Simple Favor will probably walk away smiling.
The blockbuster superhero glut has reached such a fever pitch that original standalone films like A Simple Favor have become a novelty, the sort of rare cinematic experience that so many fans fervently desire to watch but rarely get. No one makes movies like this anymore because the audiences do not really clamor for them. Though, the excitement that this release has generated has given some fans hope that filmmaking trends might eventually begin to break free from the blockbuster obsession.
Different Story And Exceptional Cast
Stephanie Smothers and Emily Nelson have a bizarre relationship. Stephanie is a widowed single mother whose life revolves largely around her son, Miles. When she isn’t micromanaging every single aspect of Miles’ existence, she can be found producing rather corny video blogs online about crafts and recipes.
Emily is a working mom, a successful PR Director who somehow balances the rigors that her son Nicky throws into her life with the challenges that her employer, a fashion company, attracts. Emily’s life is fabulous and volatile. She loves her martinis strong and her words coarse.
Stephanie and Emily have no real reason to associate with one another. And yet the two of them are best friends. They only met because their sons went to the same elementary school. For no rational reason, they struck up a friendship that rapidly evolved over the next couple of weeks until the pair was planning play dates with their sons and throwing cocktails back at private parties at Emily’s house.
So when Emily asked Stephanie to do her a simple favor, she had no reason to refuse. Besides, there was nothing particularly challenging about picking up Nicky and watching him until the busy woman got back. Except that Emily never came back; her husband Sean wasn’t particularly bothered and went so far as to suggest that his wife had pulled similar shenanigans on more than one occasion.
But Stephanie wasn’t so certain. And in between cozying up to Sean and keeping her own small family intact, she found time to investigate Emily’s disappearance, unaware of the disruption that would eventually ripple through her life as a result.
Unexpected Friendship And Mysterious Disappearance
One assumes that Darcey Bell had no idea how successful her book would get when she wrote and eventually published it in 2017. Fans of the novel have described it as Gone Girl on steroids. They lauded Bell for her wicked imagination and penchant for blindsiding them with twists and turns when they least expected it.
In truth, you will be hard pressed to find anyone that can give you an honest but detailed opinion about A Simple Favor. In fact, most people that have seen the movie would rather not talk about it. Moviegoers that went into the theater solely to watch Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively were not only floored by the performances they got but also thrilled by the unexpected direction the plot takes.
You need to expose your senses in order to appreciate Paul Fieg’s incredible achievement because nothing is ever quite what it seems. If you’ve read the synopses and watched the trailers, then at best, you have a meager understanding of the first twenty minutes. Everything else that happens after that point is a rollercoaster ride of madness.
At its core A Simple Favor explores the relationship between Stephanie (Kendrick) and Emily (Lively). Their friendship has no business thriving. And yet, when Emily disappears, there is nothing Stephanie won’t do to find her. The numerous interactions between the pair paint Emily and Stephanie as two highly layered characters.
Emily immediately stands out from the beginning, firstly because of her wealth and the curious relationship with her husband. But then it becomes abundantly clear that her past is mired in mystery. So much of her life is a puzzle even to her husband and it takes considerable effort on the part of Stephanie to put all the clues that Emily has thrown at her over the course of their friendship together in the hopes of forming a picture that might explain her idiosyncrasies.
But if Emily is the ostensible puzzle immediately thrown at the audience so that they can begin to ponder, Stephanie is that conundrum the story chooses to hide in plain sight. Viewers spend more time with Stephanie than they do with Emily. And the more screen time she is afforded, the more off-putting she becomes to some viewers, though others might laud her for the eccentricities the revelations about her past bring to light.
Anna Kendrick fans will argue that she was the star of the full movie. She, out of the entire cast, undergoes the most dramatic transformation. But Lively fanatics will counter by saying that Emily was simply the most captivating of the pair, with Lively delivering an effortless performance which perfectly captured her character’s manipulative aura.
Of course, if anyone deserves the praise here, it has to be Paul Feig who surprised all his naysayers by delivering a drama thriller of a quality so many people assumed was beyond his talents.
This could have been just another guilty pleasure for casual viewers to laugh at. But the complex plot, the talented cast, and the performances make it a must watch and memorable experience. It definitely isn’t the explosive blockbuster that will have its fans screaming and isn’t some artsy project guaranteed to make waves during Award season either. A Simple Favor simply stands on its own; an original, entertaining undertaking that will give viewers value in exchange for their free time.