“And though she be but little, she is fierce” – William Shakespeare
Words which seem so fitting for the newly released comedy, crime, drama – A Simple Favor.
Adapted from Darcey Bell’s novel, Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directs this fast-paced, comedic crime with an almost Neo-Noir aesthetic, which feels reminiscent of hit thrillers such as Gone Girl (2014) and The Girl on the Train (2016), but despite it’s clear appeal to fans who particularly enjoy a gritty mystery, this film can easily cater to the masses.
Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a widow raising a young son, lives the stereotypical suburban life. From her kitchen, decorated with painted images by her child and dressed in quintessential clothes, she hosts a vlog which focuses on sharing recipes, party ideas, and general tips and tricks for other Mothers. Despite her overly bubbly exterior, it is clear to see that this vlog is a source of comfort and a way for Stephanie to reassure herself that she is a wonderful parent and person, whilst keeping her constantly occupied. When Stephanie meets Emily (Blake Lively), a beautiful, independent woman with a solid and femme-fatale demeanour, her life changes drastically in more ways than she would ever expect.
Since first seeing the trailer I immediately knew I wanted to watch this film as I am someone who thoroughly enjoys a good mystery and trying to solve them before the all-important plot twist is revealed. However, A Simple Favor did not allow me to solve anything. The twists were hard and fast, and as a viewer, I felt just as wrapped up in the manipulation and abusive relationships as the characters involved.
The story line was strong, despite that pacing being a bit confusing throughout, a little as though it was unsure of itself – but this may have contributed to the theme of the film. The set design, costumes, and music were all stunning and I certainly need to get my hands on a copy of the soundtrack. The mise-en-scene in general worked perfectly throughout and contributed wonderfully to the ambience of the film. The graphics used for posters and during the opening credits reminded me of Catch Me if You Can, which for me personally, was another perk that peaked my interest.
I find it hard to fault the film, as I was completely immersed and invested in it. Despite some editing issues and, as mentioned, the pace becoming confusing at times, the film as a whole was extremely entertaining. It pretty much has everything you need, romance, betrayal, suspense, horror, real-life issues, action and comedy. I must say, the comedy was an absolute highlight for me. The chemistry between Kendrick and Blake was fantastic, and even the children added to the comedic element. The juxtapostion between shock-horror and comedy left me uneasy, yet incredibly entertained and the more you give it time to sink in post-viewing, the more you start to consider new theories or hidden messages.
Upon reflection, I appreciated the social commentary the film provided in the form of power play, gaslighting, and the ongoing divide between males and females. The topics brought up may not seem obvious at first but I feel the awareness created around subjects of emotional abuse, mental health and abusive relationships was important and necessary. The use of social media within the film is something which may seem second nature to most, but it’s what helps to keep this film relevant and current, especially with the stories we are seeing on a daily basis in the news. This isn’t a fantasy any more, this is real life and big brother is always watching.
I highly recommend this film. It is far from boring and a very interesting take on a crime, thriller with more twists and turns than you would expect. It’s safe to say that it was nothing like I was expecting after seeing the trailer, and the only part that has left me completely baffled is the spelling in the title as it has been heavily advertised as A Simple Favor, yet the opening credits have it spelt as A Simple Favour… maybe it’s just another mystery for us to solve.
Sonar Film is showing A Simple Favour in LT1 until the 11th October.
Tickets: £4.00 Students, £4.50 General Public
Check out their website here.