What’s the premise?
The story focuses on two mothers – Emily, who’s elegant and nonchalant, with a handsome husband called Sean, a modern mansion and a high-powered career in PR; and Stephanie, a nerdy and awkward single mom running a housewife-themed vlogging channel in her spare time – who forge an unlikely friendship through their sons. The two bond over mid-day martinis at Emily’s house and share a few secrets: it seems Emily’s life isn’t so perfect after all.
One afternoon, Emily calls Stephanie to ask for a simple favour – picking up her son from school, as she has to deal with a work crisis. But there’s a problem: Emily never returns home and she’s gone missing. Stephanie becomes obsessed with finding out what happened, and sets out on an investigation – including gathering tips from her vlog followers – to uncover the full extent of Emily’s dark past and warped present. To further add to the plot twists (no spoilers, don’t worry), sexual energy starts to mount between Stephanie and Sean, and they fall under a cloud of suspicions in their suburban neighbourhood.
Blake Lively (The Age of Adeline, The Shallows, Gossip Girl) gives a career-defining performance as the glamorous and mysterious Emily, Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Twilight) nails the overeager role of Stephanie and actor-of-the-moment Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) plays Emily’s husband Sean.
Do critics rate it?
Variety described it as “a Hitchcockian murder mystery that’s as big on twists and turns as it is on high style”, while we think Vanity Fair said it best when they called the film a “truly bonkers” thriller; in the sense that “it loses its mind and takes the audience on a crazy, flashy journey, amping up each plot twist with a bigger, wilder plot twist”.
The Mirror praised its director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call), for balancing sinister thriller conventions with dark humour in the way that Feig does best – “allowing the film to sit a while with two great actresses and utilise their chemistry to maximum effect”.
What did SL think?
Both Lively and Kendrick’s performances really do steal the show. Lively, in particular, hits a career high in her role, displaying flawless comedic timing and self-awareness (A Simple Favor’s overly dramatic twists and turns may have been likened to Gossip Girl, but the likeable-yet-snarky Emily allows Lively to transcend any ‘Serena’ comparisons).
We have to say, it’s far more Desperate Housewives than Girl on the Train, but that’s no bad thing. From the dazzling 1960s-inspired opening credits and lavish designer costumes to the verging-on-campy comedy (Lively whipping off her tuxedo dickey before serving up two cold martinis in the middle of the afternoon is a highlight) and completely unbelievable ending, A Simply Favor makes it clear from start-to-finish – this isn’t a movie to be taken seriously, despite the disappearances, corpses and Jane Eyre-esque drama.
It does, however, make for a very entertaining trip to the cinema.
A Simple Favor is in cinemas now
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