A Not-so-Simple Favor – Review
Sitting in a dark theater anxiously waiting for the movie to unravel itself and pull me into its depth of what others have described as a ‘Gone Girl’ vibe, I did not expect for the first scene of “A Simple Favor” to be Stephanie Ward (played by Anna Kendrick) taping a Youtube video for her ‘mommy blog’. Starting off cheery as can be, Stephanie goes through her introduction of her online crafting series for other moms with the energy and charisma of a character that could be featured in Alvin & the Chipmunks. Then, her mood quickly takes a dark turn. This is where Blake Lively’s character, Emily Nelson, is introduced into the plot and almost immediately, your attention is focused on the sincerity and seriousness of Stephanie’s voice. As Stephanie pleads for any news of her friend’s sudden disappearance, your mind starts going into overdrive trying to hang onto every word, hoping that you could solve the mystery of where Emily has gone before anyone else. Of course, that’s what director Paul Feig (whose past works include Bridesmaids and The Heat) wants you to do as the intensity of the film builds and the story develops rapidly.
While giving away any more detail would give away the complex plot, viewers can expect a detail oriented movie that will catch their breath, from start to end. One of the most captivating elements of the movie would have to be the sense of fashion and how it forms around each character’s persona. An enigmatic Emily made up of part ‘mysterious vixen’ and part ‘the girl that everyone wants to be best friends with’, presents herself in a androgynous visual dichotomy consisting of elegant pantsuits paired with 4 inch high heel stilettos. On the other hand, her ‘best friend’ Stephanie Ward navigates her own world with endearing oblivion in pom-pom skirts and cardigans in every hue imaginable. Emily commemorates the good girl gone bad persona through cynicism while contrasting Stephanie’s naivety and her willingness to find where her friend has gone makes your heart grow fond of her curiosity.These two women and their vast differences allow for the audience to fight for who they want to support, or not support as unsuspected dark motives begin to reveal.
The announcement of Emily’s ambiguous disappearance not only foreshadows how the rest of the movie plays out, but hooks the viewer in with the drama and intensity of the multiple pieces of information regarding who has the right motives and who doesn’t. As Stephanie and Emily’s husband, Sean (played by Henry Golding), try to put the puzzle pieces together of where their loved one has gone, your mind starts to put puzzle pieces together, only to find that they don’t fit. The twisted labyrinth of each character’s background and how they all intertwine with the blonde beauty absolutely grasps and consumes the viewer through the entirety of the movie, which leads to the question: who was really the villain?