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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters: Answer the Call), written by Jessica Sharzer (Star and Nerve), and based on the novel by Darcey Bell, A Simple Favor (2018) is a dark comedy, psycho thriller, and mystery. The film follows Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick), a passive-aggressive single mom who does Mommy DIY/hacks Vlogs, and Emily Townsend (Blake Lively), a how powered executive with more secrets then one can count. The two meet while picking their kids up from school and after an unexpected play-date between their kids, an unlikely “friendship” forms. Stephanie desperately wants to become her friend, while Emily introduces her to strong Martinis and convinces Steph to reveal some of her darkest secrets. Emily occasionally asks Stephanie to pick up her son from school but one day Emily completely vanishes. No calls, no texts, nothing. Stephanie and Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding ) try to uncover the mystery behind Emily’s disappearance, while also forming a bond of their own. As the story evolves strange things start to emerge, and when you think you’ve figured it all out a new plot twist emerges. And the trailer in no way prepares you for the film but what you get is an entertaining thriller.
Director Paul Feig takes what appears to be a serious story and adds humor, a bit of fun, and witty dialogue to the proceedings. It is obvious that screenplay writer Jessica Sharzer and first-time author Darcey Bell, kept this film on track with its dramatic tones and clever plot twist, while Feig had fun piecing it all together. The story is reminiscent of Gone Girl type of thrillers, as it can be very dramatic and an edge of your seat intensity. What makes A Simple Favor so similar to Gone Girl (2014), is the twisty nature of the story and the enthralling disappearance of a main female character. The story moves at a solid pace that keeps you invested in the characters while moving briskly enough so that the mystery stays just within your peripherals and never fully reveal itself until the right time. The end is nowhere near simple to guess but that is the mark of any good thriller film. In addition, the soundtrack adds to film’s fun side with mostly French songs that are all appropriately synched to their chosen scenes.
The main cast of Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect 3), Blake Lively (All I See Is You), and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) give superb performances and the motivations of their characters are complex, to say the least. Kendrick is great as Stephanie because she is inherently sweet and bubbly. Lively is just as much a powerhouse and she helps mold Emily into the enigma that she is. Together, Kendrick and Lively have great chemistry and play off each other pretty good. Golding is more expressive then he was in Crazy Rich Asian (his very first film) but he gets the job done as Sean by replacing some of his romantic aspects for darker skeletons thus adding to the mysteriousness that surrounds Emily. The supporting casts add to the film’s humor by presenting more as comedic relief than as supporting characters.
Overall, A Simple Favor (2018) is a dark comedy, psycho thriller/mystery that is in no way easy to figure out until the very end. The trailer cannot prepare you enough for this film as the story is engaging, intense, and filled with plot twist until the last second. The character performances are outstanding, while their motivations are more complex than we first realize. Altogether these aspects – dark comedy, mysterious story, complex characters, and even some fun music – is the mark of what makes any good thriller film. If you enjoyed Gone Girl (2014) or The Girl on a Train (2017) then you will undoubtedly enjoy this one.
"Five days ago, Emily went missing."
- Stephanie [from trailer]
Worth Seeing: 9 of 10 star
Worth Buying: 9 of 10 stars
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