Rating: ★★★ 1/2
The first time I saw a trailer for A Simple Favor, I was sucked in. We learn that this story follows Emily, a mysterious, secretive woman, and why she went missing. I love a good mystery, and immediately knew I had to go and see it ASAP to answer that simple question: what happened to Emily? On a separate note, I really like both Kendrick and Lively, so was interested to see the two of them in the leading roles. The trailer alluded to some interesting dynamics between the two, which made it more appealing.
The film is told from Kendrick’s perspective, as a single mum and lifestyle vlogger, Stephanie. She has a reputation for always wanting to keep her hands busy and stick her nose in everything, much to the annoyance of the other mums in the neighbourhood. Because of this, she is quite an isolated character, which ultimately leads her to befriend Emily. The two are polar opposites; Stephanie is a quirky, awkward and cheerful person, whilst Emily is sarcastic, brash and cynical. This pairing is a delight to watch on screen, as their friendship becomes a strange and complicated one.
When we’re first introduced to Emily, she has a powerful presence, emphasised by her luxurious and fashionable dress sense. One thing that has stood out to me and many other reviewers, is the stunning costume and set design and how they contrast with each other throughout the narrative. Characters personalities are brought to life through their wardrobes, perfectly crafted to speak louder than words could. I don’t normally place so much focus on costumes in my reviews, but in A Simple Favor’s case, it’s so important.
Unsurprisingly, the story is full of twists and turns as we are gradually shown what truly did happen to Emily. There’s not much I can say about this without spoiling it, but it’s a thrilling ride from start to finish. Admittedly it feels far-fetched in places, but I wasn’t bothered by this to the extent some others were. It isn’t the strongest thriller story I’ve seen, but it was still very entertaining.
Emily’s husband and son play central roles too, both expertly acted throughout. Class divide is a clear theme throughout the film, and I loved the way both Stephanie’s and Emily’s family compared and often clashed with each other. The visuals do a great job of emphasising this divide, juxtaposing luxurious environments with more humble ones. The visuals do make up for a weaker storyline, as they transport you to the characters world.
Overall, A Simple Favor is worth a watch and makes for a very entertaining couple of hours. If you’re a fan of thrillers with a bit of comedy thrown into the mix, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. It’s nothing particularly outstanding, but I still thought it was a good film.