Let’s Get Reel: A Simple Favor


Lauren Toneatto ’21, Life & Style Columnist

It’s been over a week since I’ve seen A Simple Favor and still the first thing that comes to my mind is, “What the f*ck did I watch?” This dark comedy starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding is not your average thriller. In two hours, you will be questioning which characters you can truly trust, all the while sitting on the edge of your seat.

Based on Darcey Bell’s 2017 thriller novel of the same name, A Simple Favor follows Stephanie (Kendrick), a peppy, overly enthusiastic mommy vlogger who uses her videos to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her best friend Emily (Lively). It has been five days since Emily asked Stephanie the simple favor of picking up her son from school. Now, Emily’s husband Sean (Golding) is in England and is unable to pick up their son; meanwhile, Emily has gone completely missing. So, what happened to Emily? Stephanie makes it her mission to find out. 

One of the successes in this film is the dynamic between Stephanie and Emily. On the surface, it seems as though the two best friends have absolutely nothing in common. Stephanie is a single mom who dresses in head-to-toe rainbow couture. Emily, on the other hand, has a glamorous fashion job in New York City and a picture-perfect husband. Stephanie is as vanilla as it gets while Emily has a phallic painting of herself in her home’s entryway and a refrigerator filled exclusively with vodka. Regardless of their major differences, these moms make for an unlikely friendship. Both actresses have impeccable comedic timing, adding an element of humor not often seen in thriller films. 

While the beginning of the film sets up this unlikely friendship, Stephanie quickly learns she doesn’t know as much about her new BFF as she thought. Warning: Spoilers ahead! After Emily goes missing, Stephanie does what any good friend would do and has an affair with her husband. Now living in Emily’s gorgeous, million-dollar house, Stephanie essentially takes Emily’s place in the life she abandoned. Ultimately, Emily’s body is found at the bottom of a lake. Yet, even with her perfect new life, Stephanie can’t help but think Emily is still alive. Why is that? Maybe because Emily is calling Stephanie and threatening her for having sex with Sean. This leads Stephanie to take matters into her own hands and find Emily herself. There’s nothing like a good old fashion road-trip to visit estranged parents and a creepy Jesus camp to do the trick.

But let’s jump to the very end because that’s where the true “what the f*ck” moment comes into play. Needless to say, Emily is alive. I’m sorry, but Blake Lively is too beautiful to be killed early on in the film. Stephanie’s sleuthing revealed that Emily, whose name isn’t actually Emily, had a twin sister whose body was found at the bottom of the lake. Now, Emily is back in her home embodying the quintessential housewife, dress, hair and gun to top it off. Gun? Yes, gun; this is where it gets interesting and especially hard to follow. At first, it seems like Emily and Stephanie are ganging up on Sean for cheating on both of them. After Emily shows Stephanie a voicemail of Sean saying he never loved her, it appears the girls have teamed up to take him down. Stephanie fires a bullet at Sean, shocking viewers and signifying her character development since the beginning of the movie. Yet, moments later, Emily kicks Sean awake, revealing that this was a ploy for Sean and Stephanie to take down Emily. So now Stephanie and Sean are working together? It seems so, as the shot to the shoulder Sean took from Stephanie didn’t do any actual damage. But a shot from Emily does. Sean’s wounded, Stephanie’s shocked and Emily’s hit by a car. What the f*ck, I know. That’s a short, badly abridged version of a long, complicated movie. Frankly, you have to see it for yourself and even then, I can’t promise you’ll believe what you’re seeing or understand what’s going on. 

Overall, I’d say this movie is worth spending two hours on, even if it was spent in absolute confusion and awe. My one big complaint is the ending seemed a little out there, even with a movie this intricate and complex. Nevertheless, Kendrick and Lively both shine in their leading roles. Who knew having Serena van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl and Becca Mitchell from Pitch Perfect in a murder mystery together was something my life was missing?