A Simple Favor is a stylish mystery film based on the novel of the same name by Darcey Bell that was published only last year. When overzealous, nerdy single mother Stephanie (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect) befriends another mother Emily (Blake Lively, The Shallows) in her suburban Connecticut neighborhood, Stephanie is quickly enamored with her new friend’s life of crisp business suits, an expensive mansion, and delicious cocktails. But when Emily goes missing, an awkward friendship of afternoon chats transforms in police interviews, dark family secrets, and a dead body.
Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, 2011 and Spy, 2015) does a nice job balancing the dark, mischievous comedy elements with the sly, crooked suspense elements. How far might Stephanie go to find out the entire (and often wicked) truth about her friend she idolizes? A Simple Favor is a great platform for the two leading actresses (Kendrick and Lively) to sink their teeth into female roles that are interesting, complex, and not concerned with likeability.
With sophisticated French pop music throughout, A Simple Favor is mostly a success with slick surprises and sharply-timed comedic dialogue. This film felt like The Grifters (1990) mixed with an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Unfortunately, the ending suffers by trying too hard to be creative and surprising. But this film, overall, is a fun twisty ride. And many audiences will enjoy guessing where the story takes them.