A Simple Favor – Review
by Karolína Smolová
A Simple Favor, directed by Paul Feig, has been promoted as a mystery and psychological thriller whose realistic approach is comparable to the likes of Gone Girl or Girl on the Train. However, despite a promising premise, A Simple Favor goes far from its genre and leaves in the end the surrealist impression of a black comedy. Turning all of its thriller potential into comedic elements can disappoint fans of the genre, but, as a black comedy, A Simple Favor passes with dignity.
Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a single mum and video-blogger, befriends the rich and bohemian Emily (Blake Lively). When Emily asks Stephanie to pick up her son from school, Stephanie is happy to help. When Emily never returns to take her son back, the mystery begins, and Stephanie decides to solve it.
Although the plot seems simple, yet appealing, the audience is confronted with heavy stereotypes from the outset of the film. It is hard to believe their behaviour as it is but Feig’s surrealist approach provides a good background for the development of his characters and to move the story forward with all its absurdities. We see Stephanie gaining more confidence and revealing her true self through dramatic and absurd situations. However, a surrealistic and comedic approach does not allow to deepen in the thriller atmosphere, and it results in a generally superficial, shallow feeling, from locations to supporting actors. The only indication of a psychological thriller is in the second act when Stephanie tracks Emily down, and the audience is trapped in the middle of the mystery, unaware of the direction it will take next. Feig has left all the thriller potential in this act and framed it as a separate unit by a superficial beginning and an absurd end. Due to this contradiction between two genres, A Simple Favor results in a black comedy with a bitter taste.