Do you like surprises? Curveballs? Unexpected revelations? Well, this film is very much for you then, as it manages about three plot twists every twenty minutes.
A Simple Favour stars Anna Kendrick as Stephanie, a stay-at-home single mom extraordinaire and bottomless well of enthusiasm. Her life revolves around her son’s school events and being far too cheerful. Then she meets Emily, who is played by the deeply convincing Blake Lively (who, spoiler alert, is not just in Gossip Girl or just Ryan Reynolds’ wife! She’s actually a genuinely good actress).
Emily is everything Stephanie is not – elegant, beautiful, mysterious, assertive, callous and abrasive. This mismatched pair become good friends, which is the sort of thing that only happens in movies, but the writing is good enough that you don’t think about that.
One day, Emily asks Stephanie for (you guessed it) a simple favour – to collect her son from school. The movie, from that moment on, turns into a bit of a rollercoaster. I literally cannot say anything too descriptive lest I spoil the movie. In short: Emily never returns to collect her son from Stephanie. Stephanie investigates the disappearance. Information is carefully revealed. There’s tense dialogue, mixed emotions, a little crime, a little sex, and then roll credits.
It does get slightly convoluted, to be honest. You might have trouble keeping track of who wants what to happen – I struggled to remember whose side Emily’s husband Sean (played by Henry Golding, who only recently made his film debut in Crazy Rich Asians) was supposed to be on. But if you can keep track of the various elements of the movie in your head, eventually you’ll hit one of the abundant plot twists and it’ll be fairly rewarding.
The soundtrack to A Simple Favour is also worth mentioning because of its surprising centrepiece. Emily’s favourite tunes are French pop music, so they’re scattered throughout the film and are consistently a delight. That’s my favourite thing about this movie – it’s just that little bit different. ‘Refreshing’ is a good word for it. Even the child actors, who often have the power to destroy movies, are passably entertaining in their roles as plot devices.
In conclusion, go watch/buy/download A Simple Favour if you’ve not enjoyed a movie in a little while. It’s a good cinematic sorbet to clear the taste buds. You might want to take notes to save you from getting lost though!
By Bryce Arthur