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A Simple Favour: Gone girl goes funny in macabre, entertaining thriller
September 21, 2018
Following the recent trend set by Gone Girl in 2014, to have a mystery around the plot of a missing woman case, A Simple Favour sets itself apart by leaning into the comedy and dark humour that its’ leads Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively excel at. Following the mommy vlogger Stephanie Smothers (Kendrick) as she investigates the disappearance of her best friend Emily Nelson (Lively). She’s forced to question how well she really knows her. Directed by Paul Feig there’s a comedic influence on the films’ style, opting for brighter colours and a better understanding of the female character and their talents.
Set in a small town the film unravels Stephanie and Emily’s relationship, forming at first through their young sons. Once a play date is set up Emily’s desire for dirty martini’s and dirty talk brings in Stephanie to a fun friendship she’s not known for a long time. The mothers’ have opposing sensibilities, leading to many jokes where one is shocked by the other, they’re fun scenes and the two leads really work well off each other passing the Bechdel test easily.
Along with two female leads there’s a diverse cast of ethnicities including Henry Golding who plays Emily’s British husband Sean Nelson. It’s a great step forward for diversity, talent and most importantly doesn’t detract from telling a very interesting story.
One day Stephanie gets an urgent call from Emily asking for a favour – to look after her son while she leaves on an important business trip for the night. Then a night turns into days, then into a full-scale missing persons case. The mystery slowly unravels as Stephanie does more and more digging, which leads to an obvious answer and the weakest point in the film. The reveal of certain plot points are cliché, nevertheless the film focuses on the performance between the characters, with Blake Lively delivering a very surreal performance in a lake.
As the investigation heats up, familiar characters from the detective genre show-up from the gossiping neighbours (“it’s obvious the husband is to blame”) to the smiling but wily detective. Feig relies on Anna Kendrick’s performance of a sweet single mother to bounce off these clichés with comedic wit and awkwardness as she starts to become more of a suspect. As the film reveals more twists in the story Stephanie, Emily and Sean seem less and less innocent, until the final reveal to this mystery.
Feig has crafted an interesting, fun and twisting mystery. It doesn’t break new ground but sets itself apart from other missing women films by being more comedic and focusing on the relationship between Emily and Stephanie. A surprisingly entertaining mystery that will try to leave you guessing.
A Simple Favour is out today.
Words by Sunny Ramgolam @SunnyRamgolam
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