Yasmeen Sewnarain
3 minute read
5 Oct 2018
9:00 am

A Simple Favor review

Yasmeen Sewnarain

Like one of its main protagonists, A Small Favor looks sanguine on the surface but is far more than it appears to be.

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in A Simple Favor. Picture: Lionsgate

One could be forgiven for thinking that this is another chick flick movie, especially since the two female leads rose to fame in Gossip Girl and Pitch Perfect.

But A Simple Favor is actually a compelling thriller filled with murder and mystery – in other words, not as simple as it appears.

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a single suburban mom who spends her time vlogging about brownie recipes and how to con your kids into eating vegetables.

The practical and cheerful widower befriends another mom at her son’s school who is a far cry from a Stepford Wife.

Sharp-tongued and cheeky, Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) doesn’t take nonsense from anyone (including her own boss) and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She is an enigma who struts around in chic suits, has nude paintings of herself in her home, and refuses to apologise for anything in life.

The two moms soon become best friends as they bond over martinis and reveal intimate details about themselves to each other.

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in A Simple Favor. Picture: Lionsgate

When Emily goes inexplicably missing, Stephanie teams up with Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) to do everything she can to find her friend, including using her vlog to ask viewers for their help and stepping into the role of a loving mother to his son Nicky.

What starts out as a simple favour for a friend – Emily asks Stephanie to pick up Nicky from school and watch him for a few hours – soon turns into a deadly game of one-upmanship.

The mommy vlogger-turned-Nancy Drew consequently finds herself entangled in web of deceit and death spun by a femme fatale who has some dark secrets of her own.

There are times when you might think the film is predictable, or that you’ve seen this story done to death in other movies. But prepared to be proven wrong. The plot makes you second-guess yourself at every turn, keeps you in suspense right until the very end, and springs a surprise twist or two along the way.

The on-screen chemistry between the three lead characters – a fun and fierce feminist, her conniving yet concerned husband, as well as their meek and vastly underestimated friend – is explosive.

Henry Golding as Sean Nelson in A Simple Favor. Picture: Lionsgate

Nothing ever seems forced, not to mention they are effortlessly likeable and it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in their convoluted lives.

Based on the book of the same name by Darcey Bell, A Simple Favor explores topics that are often considered taboo, including murder, incest, and adultery.

While the target audience may appear to be soccer moms, this is a film that anyone can enjoy, particularly those who appreciate the neo-noir or mystery genres. Who said escapism and sleuthing were only for stay-at-home moms anyway?


Rating: ★★★★☆

Cast: Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick. Henry Golding

Director: Paul Feig

Classification: 16 DLNSV

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