Sarah Callen

A film that was hard for me to enjoy.

A Simple Favor movie poster

I remember when I saw the first preview for A Simple Favor. I was initially intrigued. It was a thriller but the colors and the way it was filmed was not like the typical mysteries that we’ve all grown accustomed to. And the fact that Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick were the leads in this film made it even more intriguing to me. So, when it was finally on Hulu, I thought I’d check it out.

And I honestly don’t know how I felt about the film.

I liked the fact that this was different than most mysteries that we normally see. Lively and Kendrick both did a great job at their roles and both characters broke female archetypes in their own ways. I also loved that they dared to change the typical ending for this type of film, further emphasizing its break from the genre.

Probably the biggest difference between this film and other crime dramas were the stylistic design choices. The sets and the costumes used in this film are bright and vibrant. Emily (Blake Lively)’s house has huge windows that you can see through — there’s nowhere to hide. The film doesn’t take place in the dark or at night or in the shadows. Everything happens in the light. Though secrets are the main focus of this film, we aren’t fed them in the typical fashion we’ve grown accustomed to. Paul Feig and the creative team behind this film were very intentional to set this film apart from things we’ve seen before.

Unfortunately, I spent the vast majority of the film not paying attention to the beauty contained therein, but feeling nothing but annoyance for Stephanie (Anna Kendrick). She was needy and clingy and oozed loneliness. I wanted to take her and introduce her to some real friends who would see her, honor her, and celebrate her and not who she was pretending to be. Instead, she kept clinging to Emily, calling her her best friend, though Emily shared next to nothing about her life with Stephanie. Emily was rude and abusive and manipulative and yet Stephanie embraced this behavior. I was so put off by the entire character of Stephanie that I struggled to appreciate the rest of what was happening in the film. I guess that says more about me than the film as a whole.

But it’s interesting to me that we as viewers can have such a visceral reaction toward a character that it colors the entire rest of the film for us. Because I struggled so much with that character and the unhealthy relationship between these two women, I was unable to fully enjoy all that this film did right. A Simple Favor was a simple reminder to me that not all films are for everyone nor are all characters for us.

For me, A Simple Favor was a good film for me to have on while I was doing other things and I was glad I didn’t spend $10 to see it in the theaters. In my opinion, this is an entertaining enough film and one that’s experienced just fine on the small screen. They do plenty of things well but, for me, it left something to be desired.

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