A Simple Favor
Dir. Paul Feig
14 September 2018
This was quite a fun ride. It is beautifully stylish (I want Blake Lively’s costume design - and personal trainer). There are abundant twists and turns to entertain. The pieces fit together in an interesting, if not wholly unexpected, way.
But what really impressed me were the portrayals of the two leads. The casting was natural, with both Lively and Anna Kendrick playing characters that fit well into their existing repertoire. From that point, however, what a solid script, detailed direction by Paul Feig, and strong work from both actors did was take a typical Kendrick or Lively performance and turn it into something different and special. Kendrick does cute and quirky as well as any other performer out there right now, but A Simple Favor established that character and then let us watch as it became necessary for her character, Stephanie Smothers, to become more. The trailers left me worried that Stephanie’s arc would become nothing more than one of adopting the abandoned life of Lively’s Emily Nelson, but - fortunately - there was much more to the story, and its complexity elevated Kendrick’s game. Lively’s performance is similarly complicated by her character’s imperfections, and the result is fresh and specific and a delight to watch.
I can’t say that the storyline was all that terribly surprising, but the film was so well executed that I really didn’t care. I thoroughly enjoyed every subtle stroke of the artists’ hands that made A Simple Favor anything but simplistic.