A Simple Favor
Directed by: Paul Feig
Screenplay by: Jessica Sharzer, Based upon the novel by: Darcey Bell
Starring: Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick, Henry Golding, Ian Ho and Joshua Satine
Run Time: 1h 57min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Allow me to start this with a simple and direct message to you… see this movie this weekend. Director Paul Feig works very well with powerful women allowing them to show their strengths, such as Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock, Mary-Louise Parker and now he does the same with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in this dark film, ‘A Simple Favor.’ Lively is exceptional and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her on stage during award season.
With this film, Feig gives these two women the opportunity to have something brilliant added to their resumes and a chance to shine in the type of story usually given to the opposite sex. This is an intriguing, provocative crime-drama that leads you down a fascinating trail and you won’t want it to end. The characters are following the same bread crumbs and with how the narrative plays out, it manages to do something not always achieved these days… surprise the hell out of you.
First, we meet Stephanie (Kendrick), a widowed, overly energetic, devoted but bored mother of a young son named Miles (Satine). She’s a vlogger who, when we first see her, is telling her followers about the simple favor her friend Emily (Lively) has asked of her. Staring into the camera she says she’ll start from the beginning for her new friends, presumably us, and she tells everyone what happened. This goes on throughout the film. We go back to when she first met Emily who she instantly clutches onto. Emily’s son Nicky (Ho) and Miles ask to have a playdate. Stephanie would like this as she wants to know Emily. Emily is everything Stephanie isn’t. She’s tall, uncommonly beautiful, confident with a scent of arrogance Stephanie can’t help but admire. Though a play date isn’t something Emily usually does, she agrees. They end up at Emily’s gorgeous home which Stephanie would die to have and they begin to reveal secrets about themselves… secrets that will prove to be useful later. Emily warns Stephanie that she doesn’t want to be friends with her. Little things like this are said as Stephanie, and you, become more interested in knowing who she is.
Though the script is heavy on the dramatic aspect of the story, it’s reasonably amusing, as well. Nicky is relatively colorful most of the time, delivering rather comical lines, however subpar they may be. It’s obvious Feig doesn’t work as well with children as he does with adults.
Now we’re to the favor… and we’re all caught up with the vlog. Emily asks Stephanie to pick up Nicky and watch him until she gets home. She happily does, however, Emily never returns. Days later, she still hasn’t and single mom with time on her hands, Stephanie, begins playing Jr. Sleuth, looking for her friend. Unable to forget the mystery woman who so intrigued her, Stephanie gets to know her attractive husband, Sean (Golding), who adds that, like Stephanie, he didn’t know much about Emily. He tells her that he tried to get close, but she was hard to reach; she was like a ‘beautiful ghost.’
Deciding she likes playing Nancy Drew, she goes to the office building where Emily worked in public relations and finds a shady character and clues. After putting up posters and trying desperately to find out who she was and where she went, Emily’s body turns up in another state. As Stephanie gets closer to Sean, she kicks pursuing answers as to what led to Emily’s death, into high gear. What happens next is something she isn’t quite prepared for. Luckily, instinct and some advice she received from the friend who still haunts her, literally as well as figuratively, helps her handle herself surprisingly well when faced with moments of challenge and deception.
This film is impressive in so many ways. The music, the costumes, the characters, and the script but what stands out most is Lively whose performance, though not always on screen, infects you as you watch this play out… and stays with you long after.
Website & Socials:
Official Site: http://www.ASimpleFavor.movie