A Simple Favor: nothing simple about it

Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick? I know what you’re thinking: “a chick flick”, right? Wrong. “Ok, but what about that one movie Anna Kendrick is in where she sings, so this is some kind of musical then?”. Wrong again.

Try “mystery thriller” on for size. Let me set the scene for you. Anna Kendrick plays the role of Stephanie Smothers, the perfect mom who flirts with the line of being overly involved with her young son’s life. She doesn’t swear, doesn’t drink, and (not surprisingly) she has a mom vlog where she gives parenting tips.

Blake Lively plays Kendrick’s equal and opposite as the role of Emily Nelson. Emily is the suave mom who carries an air of mystery with each click of her Christian Louboutin heels. She’s a sexual and confident woman who also enjoys a gin martini from time to time (to time).

Emily Nelson’s husband is Sean (played by Henry Golding), a writer who hasn’t written anything good lately (according to his ever-blunt wife Emily). He’s also a teacher at a local college.

I have high standards for movies as I often get bored with the predictably and repetition of movies. I’m a bibliophile at heart so I much prefer a good book that allows for more twists and turns that many movies don’t provide, often based on time restraints alone. (Yeah I’m that annoying person who likes books better than movies.). However, “A Simple Favor”, the 2018 movie based on the 2017 novel by the same name, had enough twists and turns in it to make me dizzy – in a good way. I think I even choked on my popcorn once or twice while emitting a cry of surprise.

I think part of what made this movie so intriguing, aside from its well-crafted mystery plot, was the type of character Blake Lively played. I fell in love with her in her “Gossip Girl” days when she played the preppy Serena Vanderwoodsen, a young New Yorker with enough fashion sense to cloth the whole city of New York.

In the work she’s done since then she has never really played the kind of character she played in “A Simple Favor”. Emily Nelson is such an interesting, mysterious, and violent character that it caught me by surprise to see her in such a role. I thought she executed (no pun intended) the role excellently.

As an enigmatic cinema cynic, I usually have more complaints than compliments about a movie and it takes creative leaps of faith by the makers of the movie to impress me. However, director Paul Feig perfectly depicted the beauty and mystery of this movie, along with the suspense and passion and everything in between.

I also would like to pay homage to costume director Renee Ehlrich Kalfus, who I think did the best job with Emily Nelson’s outfits as she managed to clothe Lively’s character in the perfect balance between sexy and sophisticated.

Aside from Lively’s acting, another aspect of the movie I find important to mention is the way the ending was crafted. The final twenty minutes or so of the movie feels as if every line and movement of the characters is the final nail in the coffin to an already grim story. However, the ending takes turn after turn, continuing to build onto the suspense until you can no longer even fathom how the movie may end, as it seems as if every potential option is exhausted.

But don’t worry, this story has one hell of an ending waiting for you.

So, I guessed what you were probably thinking at the beginning of this review, and yeah, I know what you’re thinking now too: “but you didn’t tell us anything about the plot you just talked about how much you love Blake Lively”. To which I say: go see the movie, you’ll be glad I didn’t spoil anything.

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Alexis Pearson

Alexis has been writing for the Chronicle for three years. She started off as a sports writer but dabbles in all kinds of writing to keep things interesting. This year she is taking on the role of Managing Editor. She is also active at UTVS, participating in a plethora of shows. She is majoring in Broadcast Journalism and English and minoring in Art. She enjoys writing and reading and has been known to quote Charles Bukowski on occasion. She can also eat an entire pizza in one sitting.

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