A Simple Favor is a delicious murder, revenge and loyalty film, directed flawlessly by Paul Feig.
If Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively were not stars before this production, they certainly are now. Each of these women carry their roles perfectly as we see them develop through out the film. Each change before our eyes, one from growth in confidence in her character and the other, setting a difficult path to follow as her character is exposed in many ways.
Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie Smothers is a widow who uses a blog to provide ideas for housewives to use as they develop plans for various meals each day. Stephanie is self conscious and very careful as she provides guidance and nourishment for her son. From time to time pieces of the action that made her a widow is spread through dialogue, one is a questionable conception, and the other a visual of a Ford Mustang crashing into a highway barrier.
Stephanie is cautious in each of her functions particularly where it comes to dealing with her son. She is a perfect mother, taking significant roles in her son’s classroom and providing the best refreshments when called upon. Part of her need for perfection forces her constantly fear making a mistake. When she meets Blake Lively who plays Emily Nelson a women with a very strong dominant personality she is obviously taken by the tall blond who dresses to the nines.
Emily is a force to be reckoned with she is the public relations office at a design studio in NYC. When the two women are together Emily dominates. She even raises Stephanie’s sexual interest, both in her discussion of off beat activities she participates in with her husband and in a slight way flirting with Stephanie.
The simple favor occurs when Emily asks Stephanie to care for her son after school and does not return to retrieve him. Stephanie pushes through phone calls and a visit to the police to begin a search for the missing friend. When Emily’s husband ( Henry Golding Crazy Rich Asians) returns from England the two work together to determine what has happened to Emily.
From there on the script takes over, leading us into many directions some which don’t give answers, but none of them are dead ends. In one case Stephanie finds herself looking down the barrel of a shot gun, it may not provide a new clue, but it doesn’t just end, it has a purpose.
Jean Smart effectively carries out the part of Emily’s mother a woman who is obviously a drinker and somewhat lost but she provides more information for the search which Stephanie has set out on. The very smart script which is handled perfectly by Director, Paul Feig is filled with romance, sex, childhood loss, a kids summer camp, the development of the blog, and the relationship between the two women, which changes Stephanie making her stronger and more willing to take chances as the story progresses.
All the tangents which appear, draw questions as to the background of each of the main characters, and in most cases help lead to the final solution of the twisted plot.
From time to time we are treated to comical situations, one in particular involves Kendrick putting on a black dress that belongs to Emily. Kendrick who is no where near as tall as Lively finds the dress a foot too long and with a zipper that she cannot pull to take the dress off.
This is a smooth mystery filled with interesting characters is nicely directed and beautifully performed, it will be one of the best films of the year.