Paul Feig has a dark side! The Bridesmaids director diverted from his usual path of comedy and decided to dip his toes into the thriller genre. This film piqued many people’s interest - myself included - when Blake Lively unfollowed everyone she knew on Instagram and started following women named “Emily Nelson” with a new bio reading, “What happened to Emily?” It was a brilliant PR stunt… and it worked. I had to learn more about Emily.
A Simple Favor is based on the book of the same name written by Darcey Bell. This story is absolutely bonkers. It centers around an over-optimistic mommy blogger named Stephanie (Anna Kendrick). When her son Miles (Joshua Satine) asks to have a playdate with his new friend Nicky (Ian Ho) she winds up briefly befriending Nicky’s mom, Emily (Blake Lively). Emily is a blend of confidence and recklessness that mix together into a fascinating paradox – much like her ideal martini. She's a woman filled to the brim with secrets. She also has an INCREDIBLE style… that’s not of major importance, it’s just a fun fact.
Stephanie immediately becomes very taken by Emily and winds up at her beck and call. Like any great friend, Emily takes advantage of this often – using her as a free nanny of sorts. One day, Stephanie receives a call from Emily asking if she can pick up Nicky from school - which she does unquestionably and with pep. Hours pass and Emily still doesn’t show up to get Nicky. Hours turn to days, days turn to weeks, and we all begin to wonder: “What happened to Emily?” This question plunges us into the many dark secrets that simmer underneath the film’s bubbly and bright façade. As Stephanie says in the movie: “secrets are like margarine – easy to spread, bad for the heart.”
To be completely honest, I had major doubts about this movie. I thought it would be…fine. I can say with complete honesty that I LOVE this movie. It’s a seductive and sumptuous blend of thrills, stylized visuals, and plenty of haute couture. It’s by no means a serious film, but it’s a wild ride that’s guaranteed a cult following. It’s over-the-top and unapologetic with its near constant twists and turns.
Though this film boasts great acting all around, it's buoyed by Blake and Anna. They showcase performances that take their characters from page to screen - and then some. They relish in these roles and soak up every drop of their character’s flamboyant personalities. The two have this magnificent chemistry that keeps the story afloat and the audience intrigued.
A Simple Favor is a classy, humorous, and often outrageous thriller. It knows what it is and embraces it – that’s what makes it so fun.