A Simple Favour: Film Review

I love Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and director Paul Feig so A Simple Favour sounded like such a winning combination to me – so it’s a shame it doesn’t quite hit the mark. To be honest, I still don’t know what to make of it.

Kendrick stars as Stephanie, a single mum vlogger in a small town, who befriends fellow mum, high-powered PR director Emily (Lively). One evening, she does Emily a favour and takes her son home from school, but then Emily never turns up to collect him. It’s only a matter of time before Stephanie and Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) have to report her missing.

When I left the screening of A Simple Favour, all I could think to say was how weird and bizarre it was. I couldn’t tell if I liked it or not – I was just completely thrown by how different it was to my expectations. I know it has been pegged as a dark comedy slash thriller but it was not what I had thought it would be at all. It is only a comedy in the beginning and then it becomes a properly dark, overly twisted and messy thriller. In fact, it reminded me of those trashy murder mystery/whodunnits that are made for TV.

It is entertaining enough and Kendrick and Lively are captivating leads, but the material, adapted from Darcey Bell‘s novel, was weird. It is overly complex and I don’t think it actually makes any sense. I just about followed it and I don’t think I could explain the plot point for point right now because far too much happens, and by the end, when it all comes out, my mind was blown.

Kendrick plays this slightly uncool single mum and her awkward style of comedy works well, but Stephanie has an extra level, because she isn’t as innocent as she appears on the surface. There is a darkness and boldness to her, and there are some eyebrow-raising revelations about her past. Every character is a bit shady and you can never tell who is telling the truth. However, the biggest liar of the bunch is Emily, who has a lot of skeletons in her closet. Emily is similar appearance-wise and confidence-wise to Serena van der Woodsen, Lively’s character in Gossip Girl, but she requires more layers. I enjoyed watching Lively sink her teeth into this juicy role and rock some A+ ensembles.

Golding, who recently found fame with Crazy Rich Asians, gave solid support as the morally questionable husband, while I want to give shout outs to Andrew Rannells and Linda Cardellini for making the most of their small roles. I love Rannells in everything he does.

I feel like A Simple Favour was trying to be similar to Gone Girl etc but it just never felt serious enough. I never felt proper tension or suspense – in fact, the majority of the time I was just trying to figure out what the hell was going on. It looks fantastic wardrobe-wise (I’ll take it all please!), has some shocking moments (probably because I never expected something so dark and twisty), and it was cool to see these two sharing the screen in such a project. It’s just a shame it didn’t quite work out.

In cinemas Thursday 20th September 

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