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A Simple Favor Review

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Paul Feig ’s clever adaptation of a Darcy Bell novel is a dormitory noir turned into a naughty flick “A Simple Favor”.  Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick), a mommy blogger, leads this narrative by presenting the dubious case of her missing friend, Emily. Emily (Blake Lively) disappeared shortly after asking Smothers to babysit her son and has not been seen since. There are several lies the characters have to tell. But thankfully, the flashback sequences keep viewers hooked to the truth, hauling away from the façade of data that tries to misguide us. They also do us another favor, early in the movie we get to meet Emily; a conceited, disdainful, vain drunk who has never really made it to anyone’s good books.

The story also doesn’t try really hard at guarding the prestige of its sweater-clad heroine. Routing her back to her days of lure and allure, the flick does some fan service. Feig tries to unleash a true woman potential here: She can be coquettish and she can be badass. Kendrick tries hard to fit in Feig’s plethora of shoes but misses some spots. The mystique surrounding Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) does not really click either.

Is the Story Any Good?

Like any other mystery thriller, A simple favor too has a train of treachery, reversals, love, loyalty, cheating, and vengeance. There a lot of but clichéd surprise elements and the story continuously diverges side-wards to focus more on the parallel arcs rather than the core mystery. Early in the movie, the audience can easily foresee Stephanie filling in for Emily’s absence in the family. So, Stephanie’s imminent involvement in the Nelson family affairs comes as a futile shocker.

Insecure of whether its single climax would be appealing enough, the whodunit tries to rely on the build-up of circumstances. Enthralling or not, the several other mysteries unfold with such humdrum volumes that make the story almost easily predictable.  There is rarely ever any moment where we would come to a screeching halt. Rather the bizarre, queeny picture surges to present what we imagine the most. It is almost like the screenplay seizes to make any effort to make the next second different from the previous one, or at least from the several seconds of other mystery thrillers. The story swings around the most tasteless of features and does not even labor to make its mystery ‘more mysterious’.

Acting

One of the delights of Jessica Sharzers’ script is it does not suddenly reveal too much about anyone. The audience discovers a trait about a character almost simultaneously as the character discovers a particular data about itself.  So the characters to start off as cartoons running around, develop gradually into serious people dealing with a crisis. Kendrick remarkably regulates the levels of innocence and intrigue demanded by Stephanie.

The film continually rebounds to Emily’ closet, an abyss with a resonance of her own. Her menswear-inspired wardrobe raises some questions, but her sage mentoring to Stephanie reassures her commitment.

The Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train like venture unapologetically elevates its disposable waiting room read like flesh into a meatier desperate misadventure. Yes, the movie will keep you guessing. Sadly whenever you guess, you guess it right. Now, this may be something of avail in a quiz competition, but in a mystery movie, it is a single disheartening reality. Stephanie has her own secrets which are far more exciting than the film’s actual plot. Some just send you in denial, as viewers find it more convenient to accept a face appeal. In fact, Stephanie herself cautions:  “Secrets are like margarine — easy to spread, bad for the heart.”

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