Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Simple Favor

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is that annoying mom at school who volunteers for everything and makes you feel like such a bad parent. Being a single mom, she supplements her income by maintaining a vLog about basic mom stuff ranging from recipes to occasional gossip. Emily (Blake Lively) is the exact opposite. Ever stylish and elegance personified, she rarely attends any of her kid’s school events and her idea of a playdate is indulging in martinis at two in the afternoon. The two mothers meet through their children, resulting in an unlikely friendship. One day Emily asks Stephanie a simple favor. She asks her to pick up her kid at school. Three days later, she still hasn’t come back. An investigation follows with her husband Sean (Henry Golding) being considered as the main suspect for her disappearance. As the search for her intensifies, so does Stephanie’s feelings for her grieving husband.

I am a very impatient guy when it comes to twists so I Googled the big twist beforehand. And so I thought that I would no longer enjoy the viewing experience. I’m glad to be proven wrong. Paul Feig has directed a suspense comedy that mixes both elements so well. The result is almost two hours of a joy ride that keeps you at the edge of your seat all while laughing at the hilarious dialogues and ogling everything from Emily’s suits to her home’s chic interior design and furnishings because they are just so aesthetically-pleasing to look at. Toss in some French songs as part of the soundtrack and you end up with this cinematic piece that is so beautiful at the surface but rotten to the core, as far as the main storyline is concerned.

Nope, I did not mean that as an insult. When I said “rotten” I might have been referring to the characters because they are all so fucked up. Emily is intimidating because she is the lethal combination of a pretty face and a psychotic mind. Stephanie is so damn annoying but you can’t dismiss her just like that because she knows how to play this game that the two of them have devised, and she is definitely killing it. Sean is the weakest link of the three, both in reel and real life, although not that bad for Golding, who appears in what is supposed to be just the second movie in his filmography.

This film works because of the undeniable chemistry between Kendrick and Lively. Lively steals every scene she is in, maybe because of her character’s crass demeanor and unapologetic one-liners. But she really has this strong presence that draws you in. You just have to watch her. In a pantsuit. In gloves. In stilettos. As for Kendrick, she makes Stephanie so effing annoying yet still sympathetic that in the end you actually end up rooting for her somehow. Perhaps it has something to do with her being the underdog? Whatever it is, the scenes where these two appear together are the ones that grab your attention the most.

As for the twists, they kind of surprised me because some of the twists have their own twist that also has its own twist. It’s like freaking Inception in the suburbs. Some of them feel somewhat contrived but the director manages to convince you to just let it go, perhaps because the movie is such a joy to watch. Sorry, I enjoyed it that much, hence the five clovers. Overall it feels as intriguing as Gone Girl but way funnier and less self-conscious about being a thriller.

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