Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Simple Favor: Movie Review

Slick style and ludicrous plot twists.
A Simple Favor is an entertaining, wild ride of twisting madness. It’s a movie full of contradictory tones, styles and characters none of which should be in the same movie, and yet they all belong in this movie. Director Paul Feig had a very clear vision, something like Gone Girl meets The Stepford Wives and it all worked. It mostly all worked. The maddening heights that the madness reaches can be maddening, but before we get there it’s a funny thriller about interesting people.   2018

Directed by: Paul Feig

Screenplay by: Jessica Sharzer
Based on the novel by Darcey Bell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively

Anna Kendrick stars as Stephanie, a do-it-all stay-at-home mom who the other moms all hate because she spends every waking minute trying to be the perfect mom and succeeds. Being a perfect mom came after all the pain and tragedy that her life was previously filled with, which was stated in separate scenes sprinkled throughout the movie. You don’t get a full picture of Stephanie until long after the crazy plot weaves its way through all the madness. It’s brilliant character work rarely seen in dark comedy thrillers, which is a rare genre to begin with.

Stephanie meets Emily (Blake Lively), an impossibly cool working mom who has the style, job, confidence and husband that Stephanie both lacks and desires. If Stephanie even realizes that that is what she desires. Stephanie very quickly (in a matter of days) determines that Emily is her best friend (which actually isn’t unreasonable from Stephanie’s point-of-view since she is her only friend; she knows full well that all the other moms make fun of her). And then Emily goes missing.

After the disappearance, things literally go insane. What kept me hooked was the brilliant character work that was evident throughout the entire movie. Stephanie was such a complex and interesting person that after every twist, it’s worthwhile to examine which aspects of her character will get her through to the next point of stable ground, what is Stephanie actually searching for, and what does Stephanie think she is searching for. And then you can apply that to your own life.

You can’t apply (or hopefully you can’t) any part of the story to your own life because the twists come out of telenovelas instead of reality, even though all but one of the characters are very much grounded in reality.

That balancing act of interesting, well-structured characters in a movie full of increasingly far-fetched nonsense is tough. The movie nailed it for the first two-thirds, but the more insane it got, the harder it was to fully appreciate the entertaining madness of it all.