Film Review: A Simple Favor
A Simple Favor is the new thriller starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. They play two very different women who strike up an unlikely friendship after their young sons, who attend school together, insist on having a spur of the moment play date. The film also features Henry Golding, who starred in this year’s break out hit Crazy Rich Asians, as Sean Townsend, Emily (Blake Lively)’s handsome husband.
A Simple Favor is directed by Paul Feig, who is better known for his comedic films such as Bridesmaids (2011), Spy (2015), The Heat (2013), and the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot; all starring Melissa McCarthy. In A Simple Favor, however, despite having an array of funny moments and witty one-liners, the material is much darker in terms of both tone and content. This female-driven big screen drama was written by Jessica Sharzer and is based on the novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. A Simple Favor starts out simply enough. Two mismatched mothers meet for a cocktail while their young sons enjoy a fun afternoon together. Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and Emily (Blake Lively) couldn’t be more different. Stephanie is a widow with a homespun Martha Stewart-like persona who produces her own vlogs where she shows off her baking skills and teaches her followers how to make DIY crafts such as friendship bracelets. Emily, on the other hand, is a vivacious business woman who seems to personify glamour, confidence, sex appeal, and sophistication with every move that she makes.
One of the most refreshing aspects of A Simple Favor is its gender reversal in terms of its main characters. Unlike in more traditional thrillers made twenty or so years ago, in this film it’s the women who are the protagonists; three dimensional characters who aren’t merely defined by their roles as mothers or wives. The male character, however, is less developed in regards to his history, feelings, and motivations. In a way, Sean, Emily’s husband, embodies the stereotypical role of the trophy spouse; good looking and wealthy but a man whose promising writing career has fizzled out after just one book. Sean’s present job at a university pales in prestige and monetary rewards when compared to Emily’s fast paced and powerful position in the world of high end fashion.
As A Simple Favor progresses, it becomes clear that one of the film’s central themes is the inevitable way in which secrets, even those from the distant past, can resurface when you least expect them. Throughout the course of the movie, it is revealed that both Emily and Stephanie are haunted by secrets that threaten to tear their seemingly idyllic lives apart. Alas, all is not as it seems in upper class suburbia. The appeal of A Simple Favor lies in the relationship and interplay of the two contrasting lead characters. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively have an unlikely yet electric chemistry, which is only allowed to physically manifest itself for one all too brief moment. The film is at times witty and suspenseful as the plot morphs into a sexy whodunit murder mystery. While not a Hitchcock-grade thriller, A Simple Favor will no doubt keep viewers guessing until the very end.
A Simple Favor is now playing in theatres.