A Simple Favor – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

A Simple Favor – 4/5 – Genres spring a notion of expectations.  No matter if it’s a sequel, original comedy, over-to-the-top action or serious drama, you will have a baseline for the story.  Occasionally, there are films that catch you off guard.  No matter what is marketed, the film becomes an unexpected treat.  A Simple Favor is based around the thriller concept, but the story navigates in a way that entices satire and comedy.  With strong characters and a smart script, A Simple Favor becomes a gratifying but genuine experience; a truly underrated film.

Premise:  After the disappearance of her best friend,  Stephanie Smothers leads a personal investigation that reveals truth that can’t be unlearned.

In the main roles are:

Anna Kendrick as Stephanie Smothers

Blake Lively as Emily Nelson

Henry Golding as Sean Townsend

These three do a great job creating characters with true distinction, bravado and charm.  With an intuitive script that is built on dialogue driven moments, you have conversations/situations that are emotionally enticing for the audience.  These moments’ drive the characters’ purpose, creating a sense of flawed depth in their decisions and psyche.  By providing ‘scenarios’ through a thriller concept, you have a multi-dimensional focus that centralizes characterization.  This allows for the individual to have a spotlight on their desires, creating a complex web of mystery, angst and honesty.  This is strong for Kendrick’s Stephanie Smothers and Lively’s Emily Nelson.  You see them exude a range of oddities through the lens of endearment.  The chemistry is amazing, revealing that realistic ‘best friend’ trope that shines a light on humanistic flaws.  It is unhinging but welcomed, quirks that make the story more special.  The secondary cast do just enough to provide colorful surroundings, but don’t detract from the overall story.

The direction uses a script that is infused of multiple genres.  What you have is a complimentary approach towards the ‘thriller’ genre, while surrounding it with dark comedy and satirical drama like themes.  This creates a story that relies heavily on dialogue and reactions, creating scenes that are organic because of the decisions made by the character(s).  This creates a web of mystery that string paralleling tones that are ominous, comical but unpredictable.  You have no clue of why things happen (at first), which allows for a ‘first person’ unveiling of layers to the mystery.  You are introduced to the main characters through the ‘flashback’ technique, watching as Stephanie Smothers explains how she meets Emily Nelson, her disappearance and personal investigation.  Once everything heads into the present, the director uses a methodical approach to move through heavy dialogue and expositional scenes.  Each moment is surreal, obvious but startling.  With each new surprise, it is complimented with strong/witty dialogue and satirical aspects of life, personal convictions, family and trust.  There are no clichés, tropes or predictable plot points that move along the story, everything becomes a dark comedy/satire lens of thriller-like emotions.  This combination creates a ‘missing woman’ case that makes everything feel just a little indifferent.  That contrast creates a personal grip for the audience, as you become entrenched in the reveals that Stephanie finds about her best friend Emily.  As the film moves through these revelations, you have a twisting method of multiple angles that create a window of unexpected confrontations.  The unforeseen moments allow for the characterization to mold with the meshing of three genres.  This creates the realistic perception of ‘why’ everything is happening, a reflection of flawed human behavior.  By showing how Stephanie is more than a single mom or Emily is more than a faithful wife, you see ambiguity of tropes being morphed with originality.  This sets up a third act that is poignant, relentless and unpredictable, leading to a climax that puts the audience on the edge of your seat.  Once all things come together, it creates an epilogue that is satisfying to the whole experience.

The visuals of basic aesthetics of everyday suburbia life.  There isn’t anything that adds to the story, but it allows for everything to feel real throughout the story.  The score is very much a reflection of the characters, oddly colorful but creates staunch emotions towards each random scene.

A Simple Favor is one of the surprise hits of 2018.  With strong characters and an original script, this is a thriller that will leave you speechless (in the end).  If you’re a fan of originality, thrillers or want to be surprised, this is one for you.  I recommend this at full price, worth seeing at the theaters.

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