A Simple Favor Movie Review: In this story about an unusual couple, friendship turned weird mystery, Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are hilarious.
The lip-smacking, acidic droplets of malice in Paul Feig’s latest picture (Bridesmaids) make this unexpectedly vicious comedy as delicious as the two lead characters’ mid-afternoon martinis.
Stephanie is played by Anna Kendrick, an overly upbeat mother who always goes above and beyond when it comes to racking up extracurricular points.
Emily is played by Blake Lively, a tough-as-nails fashion PR professional whose idea of a playdate starts and ends with cocktails.
The Two Become Best Friends
But, through shared secrets and gin, the two become best friends. Emily then vanishes after asking Stephanie for one small favor: to pick up her son from school.
Kendrick is a cheery delight as a figure who is far from squeaky-clean at first glance.
Her search for the truth about Emily’s death includes ingenious but often unconvincing disguises (“Never wear an antique Hermès scarf with a Gap T-shirt.
Emily’s boss snarks, “If you were genuinely Emily’s friend, you would know that,” and Emily’s Mommy-vlog is deliciously passive-aggressive.
A flirtatious wink of a soundtrack full of breathy 1960s French pop gets the film bonus points.
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The Delicate Balancing Act That Is “a Simple Favor” Is Quite Impressive!
It’s a suspenseful thriller with a broad sense of humor (even slapstick at times).
A single misstep could have been fatal, resulting in a picture that was overly serious, strained to be “relevant,” or worse, just plain uninteresting.
However, Paul Feig’s film “A Simple Favor” has its cake and eats it too. It’s both suspenseful and humorous.
It’s perceptive about the psychological games women can play with one another, but it doesn’t strive to be “important.”
It isn’t attempting to “say something” about “how we live now” or anything along those lines.
What a Relief to See a Film That Isn’t Scared to Let Its Hair Down
The quirky, stylized credits sequence (created by David Clayton) instantly tells us that this isn’t going to be a dismal, by-the-book thriller.
The credits are a collage of ostentatious consumption, with single-color pictures of stilettos and purses floating around in geometric cut-out forms, a throwback to 1960s comedies or espionage capers.
With one of several famous French pop songs playing in the background. Serge Gainsbourg’s “Bonnie & Clyde,” a duet with Brigitte Bardot, as well as “Une Histoire de Plage,” “Laisse Tomber les Filles,” and Jean Paul Keller’s “Ca C’est Arrange,” are all featured on the soundtrack.
One of the Most Critical Components of Filmmaking
Is mood-setting, and many films fail to do so right from the start.
Jessica Sharzer’s adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel “A Simple Favor” knows exactly what it needs to do to set the tone for the rest of the story.
Stephanie Smothers, played by Anna Kendrick, is a single mother who maintains a successful “vlog” where she provides recipes, parenting advice, and DIY how-tos.
She’s a total type-A personality, volunteering excessively at her son’s school and making other parents look like slackers.
Stephanie Is Established as Virtually Friendless in a Few Quick Sequences
Until Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), whose son attends the same school as Stephanie’s, enters her life.
Emily works “in the city” (New York) and convinces Stephanie to join her in sipping martinis after picking up the boys from school.
They get drunk and sit in her opulent glass-walled mansion. Stephanie is taken aback.
It’s easy to understand why. Emily looks effortlessly chic in high heels and pinstriped suits with gold watch chains.
(Costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus deserves a lot of praise.) Emily curses like a sailor (even in front of the kids) and speaks bluntly: she looks Stephanie in the eyes, intimate and supportive. Stephanie can’t believe she’s been “selected” as this fantastic creature’s companion.
Emily’s Behavior Raises Various Red Signals
Which Stephanie ignores. Stephanie grabs Emily’s picture once without her permission, and Emily orders her to remove it in a threatening tone.
Emily’s attractiveness hides an intimidating and erratic demeanor that alternates between being kind and encouraging one minute and slightly frightening the next.
Emily encourages Stephanie to quit apologizing for everything: “It’s a fucked-up female habit.”
She is correct. Emily, on the other hand, constantly manages to throw Stephanie off balance. Both actresses are working hard in this scene.
You want Stephanie to relax because Kendrick is so awkward, yet it’s her awkwardness that makes the performance so funny.
Blake Lively is the reincarnation of Julie Christie in her greatest 1960s and 1970s work: vicious and charming, sexy and detached.
A completely unsettling presence for both men and women. This is a fantastic part for Lively.
After that, Emily vanishes. Stephanie becomes the center of attention as Emily’s “best friend” after the cops are called.
She assists Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) with the kids, encourages him through his grief and worry, and updates her “vlog” regularly (her follower count goes through the roof).
Stephanie gradually begins to suspect that there is more going on than meets the eye.
What Exactly Does Stephanie Know About Emily?
What is Emily’s name? Nicky even calls his wife a “beautiful ghost.”
Stephanie, who has been humiliated and scared by Emily’s calm look, discovers a strength she didn’t know she possessed, and “A Simple Favor” becomes Stephanie: Girl Detective.
She searches for clues to put together Emily’s past.
Stephanie is the same mousy overachiever, dressed in neat little Gap outfits, but now she’s sneaking through apartments and workplaces, breaking into filing cabinets, and doing things she never dreamed she would—or could—do.
Strong Charismatic Women
Working with strong charismatic women, giving them space to whoop it up, work off one another, and be co-creators, is one of Paul Feig’s skills as a director.
There is room in his method for behavior, humor, and spontaneity. (Think “The Heat,” with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.)
That partnership could have, and probably should have, been a franchise.)
“A Simple Favor” features a complex plot with several unexpected twists and some very terrifying passages, but it doesn’t feel overly planned.
Are You Attempting to Diabolique Me?
Stephanie becomes panicked and exclaims to Nicky, “Are you attempting to ‘Diabolique’ me?”
It’s a funny line, but it requires knowledge of “Diabolique,” a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1955 film “Les Diaboliques,” about a wife and mistress plotting to murder the man they share in common.
It’s not for nothing that French pop tunes dominate the soundtrack of “A Simple Favor.”
The plot has certain parallels with “Gone Girl,” but the similarity should end there.
“Gone Girl” was an extremely serious film. “A Simple Favor” is not a serious film at all. This is a good thing.
Chronicled the Story of Stephanie
A Simple Favor, based on the 2017 novel of the same name, chronicled the story of Stephanie (Kendrick).
A bereaved mother who runs a parenting vlog and becomes BFF with stylish suburbia.
A plate of upper-class fashion Emily (Lively). Stephanie launches an investigation into Emily’s abduction when she goes missing unexpectedly, but the mystery deepens.
Stephanie finds herself in a predicament that is far more intricate and sinister than she anticipated.
The picture grossed over $97 million at the box office and received favorable reviews, with Entertainment Weekly calling it “a taut, engrossing, beautifully stylish journey.”
No additional details about the sequel have been revealed, but the original’s ending left room for more twists and turns, so anything is possible.
However, if the sequel doesn’t feature a cameo from Emily’s ex-girlfriend. Linda Cardellini — as well as pantsuits for days — we may have to hurl a martini in Feig’s face.
Lively’s representatives did not immediately reply to an EW request for comment.
Is a Simple Favor Worth Watching Again?
A simple favor introduced subtle humor to the suspense genre.
The great casting of Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively makes the job better.
The chemistry between the two girls is palpable. I recommend it for a good night out.
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