“A Simple Favor” stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Ian Ho, Joshua Satine, and Linda Cardellini. Released on September 14, 2018, the film is about a blogger who tries to solve the mysterious disappearance of her friend.
The film is directed by Paul Feig, who also directed films such as “Bridesmaids”, “Spy”, and the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot. It is based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. We are now delving back into the mystery thriller genre, folks. Now with more twists and turns. Known for helming female-led comedies, Paul Feig is taking a much different approach by focusing more on the mystery and less on the laughs. This maneuver immediately caught my interest because when it comes to films with female leads, Feig is one of the types of directors that know how to make women entertaining and likable, no matter what type of genre. “Searching” has done plenty to provide an enticing mystery thriller that I wouldn’t mind revisiting in the near future. Will this one be able to provide that same experience?
It’s no mystery that the film’s story is more of a light-hearted version of “Gone Girl” without the depression and the slowness. Most of the mystery thrillers I’ve experienced have always provided an unsettling and bleak feeling in terms of the tone, but they also never lost sight at keeping the mystery as interesting as possible. “A Simple Favor” is no exception when it comes to the latter. With Feig in the director’s chair, the film proves that it doesn’t need to be dark and unsettling to make an engaging and well-acted mystery film. It had the right amount of style and sarcastic humor to deliver an enticing experience that’s almost in the same veins as Nancy Drew. Anna Kendrick was once again very enjoyable in her role as Stephanie Smothers, a single mother who gets caught in a web filled with twists and deception. Kendrick has an irresistible knack for portraying light-hearted and awkward characters, but it was her dramatic moments that really made both her character and her performance more absorbing than usual. As for Blake Lively, need I say more? I couldn’t imagine someone else playing Emily Nelson, Stephanie’s friend. Lively just owned her performance and never lets it go until the very end. I also thought Henry Golding (the star of “Crazy Rich Asians”) did a nice job with his performance as Emily’s husband. The film’s style is quite different compared to what I’ve seen in Feig’s other works. It definitely has that mysterious noir feeling that we see in other films like this, but it also has the usual Feig charm that kept it from moving too far into the dark side. There were a couple of humorous moments that might not work well with its tone, but it didn’t get to the point where it changed the film entirely. The plot twists were effective enough to drive the story forward, even though some of them were unsurprising. Without spoilers, there were two scenes in the film that I thought could’ve switched places with one another in order to make that certain twist much more convincing than what it was now. Other than that, they worked out well in keeping me interested.
Overall, it may not be as surprising as I thought it would be, but “A Simple Favor” wonderfully showcases Paul Feig’s talent outside of his comedic works. Thanks to its main female leads, some effective twists, and a solid blend of style and substance, this is one mystery that’s worth solving. I guess after watching several mystery thrillers that left me feeling down in the dumps, it’s nice to see something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’re a fan of these two actresses or if you’re just in a mood for a light-hearted mysterious ride, it’s worth checking out.