FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: A Simple Favor (2018)

NOT SO SIMPLE…

I’m a Kendall Richardson and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is A Simple Favor

Lionsgate / Feigco Entertainment / Bron Studios

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding), Stephanie’s investigation uncovers a series of betrayals, secrets, and more…

A Simple Favor is anything but simple. And that’s what makes it a very entertaining film. Based on the best seller by Darcey Bell, and after the film’s French style opening, we meet passionate Mum and vlogger Stephanie Smothers, played exceptionally well by Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick. She takes us through the current situation plaguing her life—the abrupt and mysterious disappearance of her best friend Emily Nelson, the role Blake Lively embodies that is just as stylish as it is absolute bonkers. In fact, pretty much all of the characters in this film are out of their gourds. Whether that’s something you can tell straight away or something you learn as the movie progresses, the one thing you know for sure is just how crazy everyone is by the time the credits are rolling. And, you know, that’s totally okay. So often in these movies with gorgeous leads, the characters are one note, lacking depth and anything else interesting about them. It is quite refreshing to meet these people who are flawed and are so much deeper than the beautiful exteriors they present to the world.

The first part of the movie is spent flashing back to the day Stephanie and Emily met, and their interesting relationship that followed up until Emily’s disappearance. The two women connect over their sons’ burgeoning friendship and constant play dates that see the boys upstairs doing who knows what, and the mothers downstairs making exquisite martinis at Emily’s insistence. However, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that they love their sons, even though you see more of this from Stephanie than Emily respectively as the movie continues. Despite their characters being almost nothing alike, Kendrick and Lively share a very natural and rich onscreen chemistry. All of the dialogue during their scenes together feels completely natural and is a testament to their wonderful talent as actors.

Once Emily disappears, the film’s tone changes and heads down a darker path, taking it into weird black comedy territory. Stephanie makes some questionable decisions, such as shacking up with Emily’s husband, writer and college Professor Sean Townsend, played by Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding. But regardless of that fact, she nevertheless persists in learning all she can about Emily, why she disappeared, and whether or not she really is dead. Her vlog pops up throughout the film, with each entry becoming weirder than the last; her cheery disposition crumbling on camera. Blake Lively does great work with Emily, but the real star of this film is hands-down Anna Kendrick. She is so skilled at toeing the line between serious and silly, and it always makes her a joy to watch, and the main reason I had such a good time watching this story unfold.

Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters) also proves to the audience he can hack it at the helm of a film that isn’t a run of the mill comedy. The film is extremely well shot and edited, and even with the change of tone, it doesn’t go too far with its dark subject matter that you end up with a different film than what you started with. He stays the course and handles it like a pro. So like I said, A Simple Favor is anything but simple, which I feel definitely makes it worth your time, and a fun time at that. 3½ / 5

 

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Ian Ho, Joshua Satine, Andrew Rannells, Glenda Braganza, Kelly McCormack, Aparna Nancherla, Dustin Milligan, Danielle Bourgon, Gia Sandhu, Rupert Friend, Eric Johnson, Linda Cardellini, Paul Jurewicz, Sarah Baker, Jean Smart, Bashir Salahuddin.

Director: Paul Feig | Producers: Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson | Writer: Jessica Sharzer (based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell) | Music: Theodore Shapiro | Cinematographer: John Schwartzman | Editor: Brent White

In cinemas now.

 

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

I’ve been a Kendall Richardson and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

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