A chilling and at times confusing narrative that explores the life of the allusive character that is Emily played by Blake Lively. Stephanie, played by Anna Kendrick, the overly chipper mother who always likes to be ahead of the game finds herself in awe of Emily’s extravagant lifestyle to then become tangled in all the secrets Emily has hidden for years. The film delves into the twisted lives of both leading female characters as they find themselves to be the most unusual of friends.
The squeaky-clean impression Stephanie fools others with is not quite as simple as she would have you believe. The women’s friendship develops from their sons’ friendship at school. The playdates quickly turn into a sinister game of truths which leads Stephanie to reveal her darkest of secrets. The light-hearted beginning unexpectedly turns into a dark mystery when Emily asks Stephanie one simple favour, to pick up her son from school, and vanishes. Stephanie begins to investigate her ‘best-friend’s’ past after becoming worried by her unexplained absence.
Emily’s powerful, savvy and dominant attitude steals the show along with her flawless beauty and cynical and glamorous ways. She is the ultimate PR business executive working in the fashion industry seemingly very reluctant to fill the role of mother or wife. Her evil and psychopathic tendencies are impressively disguised behind her hard-boiled exterior that Paul Feig, the film’s director, perfectly depicts.
Sean, Emily’s husband, played by Henry Golding falls into an intimate relationship with Stephanie the day of Emily’s funeral. Their relationship develops further with Stephanie moving into the family home practically ‘replacing’ Emily. The scenario seems quite strange and intrusive; this is where the spine-ringing attempts to begin.
An unexpected ending sees the main character Emily meet her end when the police finally arrest her for the killings of both her father and sister. The final scene involves Emily getting hit by a car yet still fighting to survive and run from her past which creates one of Feig’s classic comic effects.
The flashback style used in the movie can at times make it disjointed and confuse the narrative. The ‘big reveals’ can also feel underwhelming and unsurprising. Although, the film is backed by the soundtrack of 1960s French pop that seems to capture the film’s sharp wit and dark thrills. Feig’s comedy elements shine through the quirky thriller, especially in Lively’s character as a pathological liar. The film at times attempts to address deeper issues for example through Stephanie’s apologetic demeanour but this emotional depth is lost amidst the theatricality of it all.
This female-fronted noir comedy leaves you guessing from start to finish, questioning who knew what and how much of it was real. A Simple Favour combines school-gate politics with the mystery of both Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, though it lacks the edginess and thriller element it might have hoped to achieve. Kendrick and Lively are brilliant together with their quick one-liners over martinis showcasing the competitive nature found between stay-at-home and working mums. These stereotypical disguises quickly shatter to find both women with a past which they are desperate to escape.