After a decade spent mostly in the realm of comedy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy), director Paul Feig has opted to bring his sensibilities to the thriller genre with the big screen adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel “A Simple Favor.” The good news is that it works quite well which probably shouldn’t be a surprise. And if anyone is concerned that Feig has abandoned the yuks with A Simple Favor then let’s just say there are laughs to be found even if the humor is of a different variety. This is a good example of a director stretching his muscles and stepping outside of his comfort zone in a positive fashion.
Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a recently widowed, stay at home mother of one who is attempting to make ends meet posting what she refers to as mommy videos where she shares recipes and the like. Stephanie befriends the mysterious, Emily (Blake Lively), after their two sons become friendly at school. The lives of the two women could not be more in contrast. Emily is the drop dead gorgeous executive, married to a literary sensation (Henry Golding), whose life seems to be well put together in every facet. Stephanie, on the other hand, is deeply lonely and longing for human contact, both romantically and otherwise. As Stephanie puts it succinctly at one point, “I think more people die of loneliness than cancer.”
The two women develop a bond in spite of their differences. And then Emily disappears. Stephanie decides to use her videos as a way to locate Emily after she vanishes, enlisting the help of her followers. However, the more Stephanie discovers about Emily, the stranger the story gets. In the interest of not spoiling any plot surprises let’s just say that the plot owes more than a passing debt to David Fincher’s 2014 film Gone Girl.
I’ll leave it at that.
A Simple Favor doesn’t really break any new ground and anyone who’s well versed in these sorts of things will probably figure it out a lot sooner than the character of Stephanie manages to do. Still, they always say that the destination is the best part of the journey. Feig does have a nice directorial touch that manages to make the journey more palatable and interesting than it would have been in a lesser filmmaker’s hands. Plus the performances are all first rate across the board. All in all it’s an easily digestible experience that makes for a breezy and fun time at the movies.
Film is playing at the AMC in Hickory and around the area.
Images: Kendrick & Lively in A Simple Favor
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