A mystery movie that actually remains mysterious.
Directed by Paul Feig, A Simple Favor takes audience members along the journey as Stephanie, played by Anna Kendrick, tries to solve the disappearance of her best friend Emily, played by Blake Lively. The story follows two seemingly different women who fall into an unlikely friendship.
Stephanie is a mommy vlogger. She volunteers in the classroom, smiles more than necessary and apologizes too frequently. Emily has a very demanding job in the city with a long commute where she works for a famous fashion designer as the head of his PR. She is too busy to be involved in her son’s life, loves a strong martini and cusses like a sailor. The two are brought together through the friendship of their sons Nicky, played by Ian Ho, and Miles played by Joshua Satine, when they ask to have a playdate. Both women know only stereotypes of the other, but soon become an unlikely pair hanging out for drinks often as their kids play upstairs.
As the movie continues, the audience learns that Stephanie is not as picture perfect as she appears, and Emily’s life is not as glamorous as it seems either. Through drunken conversations and memory flashbacks, the viewers are able to get a fuller picture of who each woman is, but not quite enough to figure either of them out. This is when Emily vanishes.
At first, nobody is too surprised; Emily’s husband Sean, played by Henry Golding, tells Stephanie that Emily frequently takes off when she knows her son is being taken care of. Before disappearing, Emily asks Stephanie for “a simple favor: pick up Nicky after school,” and then does not pick him up or respond to any calls or texts for two days. When Stephanie finally calls Sean, he insists that Emily puts work ahead of everything and everyone. They decide to file a police report to make Emily realize that she can’t just disappear without telling anyone without consequences. However, when they still do not hear back after several days, they begin to worry.
Little by little, missing pieces of the puzzle reveal themselves allowing the audience to start making assumptions of what happened and what is going to happen next. The movie continually has viewers question who is guilty, what is each character actually capable of and where the plot is going to take them. Keeping spectators on edge, Feig makes sure nobody knows who to root for as the movie has one plot twist after the other.
While there were some cliches throughout, Feig does an impressive job at trying to combat each one by giving them a twist. He includes a new spin on shady relationships and also takes dirty and corrupt pasts in a different direction than other mystery movies have before. However, in creating such a complex movie, Feig got tangled up in his own mess and had a hard time closing all the loose ends.
The movie kept viewers whispering their guesses about who was guilty of what and who the protagonist was as it continued to change throughout. But as the movie came to a close and things started to be a little more clear, the ending became rushed. Loose ends are chopped apart instead of being tied off nicely; the movie was captivating, until it wasn’t.
Overall, the movie kept audience members guessing. It remained interesting and funny even as it tread into deeper waters. It became more intricate than the average mystery movie, yet remained easy to follow along with as everyone tried to uncover the mystery revolving around Emily. However, as a movie with a deeper plot, it required much more than a rushed ending full of unanswered questions, which ultimately ended in disappointment.