Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Simple Favor: Deceit, Doubt & Death

REEL REVIEWS

“A Simple Favor” follows the story of Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick), a single mother who runs her own baking blog while trying to raise her son. Stephanie’s life soon changes when she meets Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), who happens to be the mother of her son’s best friend. Though Emily comes off as a jaded individual, the two become best friends. They share drinks, exchange stories, and Emily even allows Stephanie to look after her son from time to time.

Things soon take a dark turn, however, when Emily up and vanishes without a trace. With the cops turning up nothing, and Emily’s husband and son growing worried, Stephanie takes it upon herself to discover what became of her best friend. Unfortunately, as Stephanie trudges further into this mystery, she finds herself delving deeper into Emily’s past, and the secrets she’s been keeping from everyone in her life. And as the secrets lead Stephanie to the truth, she’ll learn that sometimes the truth can be deadlier than the lie.

“A Simple Favor” is based on a novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. As someone who hasn’t read the original story, I can’t confirm exactly how faithful the movie is to the source material. What I can confirm, however, is that “A Simple Favor” the movie is an entertaining thriller, with a good balance between humor and drama.

This is a fun and fascinating mystery that manages to hold the audience’s attention, while leaving them holding their breath until it reaches its climax. Now, this is not your typical dark, thriller, mystery like “Silence of the Lambs” or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” No, “A Simple Favor” has more of a lighter side to it through its use of humor as we follow our main character, Stephanie Smothers, an awkward, but loving individual as she’s thrown into a morbid and dark tale. It’s sort of like “Sherlock Holmes,” except his landlady—Mrs. Hudson—is the main heroine solving the mystery.

Though I praise the film for its humorous characters and interesting mystery, “A Simple Favor” suffers from a few flaws. There are moments where the movie blurs the line between a Lifetime Movie and a Soap Opera. I can’t give away too much information due to spoilers, but there were more than one or two scenes where the movie went in a predictable direction that made me tune out as I found myself waiting for them to be over. Thankfully, these parts didn’t last too long, and the film picks up again as it reaches its climax; and it didn’t leave me unsatisfied in the end.

Where “A Simple Favor” truly shines, however, is thanks to the talents of Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. The two were a perfect casting as both fit flawlessly into their roles; and both actresses work wonderfully off each other. Plus, and forgive me if this sounds a bit cutesy, but I found Anna Kendrick absolutely adorable throughout the movie. Some of the film’s best parts are whenever she’s investigating. However, Blake Lively also deserves praise for her role as Emily Nelson.

If Anna Kendrick’s performance represents a light side of the movie, then Blake Lively represents the dark side. Blake Lively’s performance can be described as opposite sides of a single coin. In one moment, she’s an amusing but jaded individual with satirical humor. In the next, she flips over to reveal another side—a side that’s threatening, outright intimidating, and not someone you’d want to trifle with. Which makes for some intense moments whenever she and Anna Kendrick are onscreen together.

“A Simple Favor” is rated R for sexual content, some graphic nude images, drug use, violence, and language. If you’re looking for a good mystery thriller that possesses a lighter, humorous side to it, then I’d recommend giving this one a watch. Despite some hiccups here and there, there’s not much that hurts the overall film. Plus, the casting and acting help the good outshine the bad. Which is why the final score for “A Simple Favor” is a 7.5 out of 10.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.

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