HOLLYWOOD—When I first saw the teaser for the film, “A Simple Favor,” I knew it was going to be something special. It is something different from director Paul Feig, who is known for his skill behind the camera with comedies like “The Heat,” “Bridesmaids,” “Spy,” and recently the reboot “Ghostbusters.” The thriller stars Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick and working moms who bond because their sons both attend the same school.
You could make the argument that Stephanie (Kendrick) is a bit of a perfectionist, while Emily (Lively) is a bit wild; you can tell beyond the chic look that this woman has one hell of a dark side and it’s just waiting to explode. Be patient because it does indeed transpire, when you least expect it. The ladies share secrets some which are quite dangerous to say the least; I want to believe you’d be careful to reveal your darkest secret to someone that you just met, and those secrets do indeed come back to haunt both ladies.
Here is where “A Simple Favor” gets it right; the script is crisp, clever and full of twisted turns that even I (as someone who loves a great twist or two) did not see coming from a million miles away. The audience is given hints which are so subtle that if you don’t pay attention you might miss the crucial clue. Stephanie and Emily are playing a cat-and-mouse game; it’s all about who can outmaneuver the other, and as a spectator it is so entertaining to watch.
The audience is kept on the edge of its seat and the performances by Lively and Kendrick are superb. Feig directs the flick with a level of poise and patience where the suspense is palpitating. No this is not “Halloween” or “A Quiet Place.” This is an adult thriller with an edge, with a guessing game where you never quite know where the secondary characters are aligned with our main characters. I will not pinpoint who is good or bad as I might give away crucial clues to the mystery at the hand.
This isn’t much of a spoiler to reveal that Emily’s character goes missing and the audience immediately starts to suspect that Stephanie may have played a role in her BFF vanishing without a trace and the fact that she has a bit of sexual chemistry with Emily’s hubby, Sean (Henry Golding) does not help her case one bit. That is what any good thriller does; it casts doubt on all of its characters, not just the primary ones.
“A Simple Favor” keeps the viewer entertained; you find yourself easily sutured by the narrative, the primary players and attempting to solve the mystery before it’s revealed to the audience. This was one of the biggest surprises I’ve witnessed at the multiplex in years, and I have to tip my hat off to “A Simple Favor” which entertained in ways that I never thought; it was pure fun from start to finish.