Monday, October 1, 2018
A Simple Favor Review
With this movie, we're going to play the same game as we did with "Searching." If you like thrillers, you understand that the less you know about them going in, the better your experience is going to be. Thus I'm going to put up the warning label that you should just stop reading and go see this movie if thrillers are your thing. It's a wild, crazy ride that's worth your time. Although it does have more of the "Gone Girl" edge to it when it comes to content, so keep that in mind before you completely take my word for it and dive in. If you need a bit more, then feel free to proceed with this review. This isn't a spoiler review, but it's the type of movie where any details that are said could, in theory, be taken as spoilers. Hence the warning. On that note, in terms of a premise for the movie, I was put at ease a bit with the introduction because the first scene of the movies describes the premise. Anna Kendrick's character has vlog page (an off-brand of YouTube, because, unlike "Searching," I'm guessing they didn't want to pay to use YouTube itself) where she normally does various homemaking stuff, but this time she tells her viewers that her best friend has gone missing and she's sad about that. So that's our premise. Then we jump back in time to tell how we got to that point.
On that note, you immediately know that there's a lot more to this Blake Lively character. And the first clue is the obvious one in that the intro to the movie is five days into the future where Anna Kendrick states that her friend has gone missing. But even if they hadn't started the movie off that way, you would've been able to tell that there's a lot more to this character than is initially revealed and it gives you a sense of uneasiness as you move forward as she has this dark aura around her and a rather cunning personality. My guess when we started was that she was playing Anna Kendrick. Taking advantage of her innocence and naive nature. Thus it made their interactions a bit nerve-wracking. I felt like there was a real sense of danger that had me nervous for Anna Kendrick because I cared for her since she was set up to be the good girl. I don't want to say too much, but there is a point where Blake Lively is probing into Anna Kendrick, trying to figure out if she had dark secrets of her own, which made me think that there was more to Anna Kendrick as well. After all, even though she did have that innocent persona, she was willing to let this dark woman into her life and she wasn't quite as disturbed as you might think in interacting with her given the setting.
I do feel like I have given away too much, but I did warn you earlier, so I don't feel too bad. Plus, all I've discussed so far is from the setup of this movie. The first act, if you will. As we went along, I was getting a legitimate "Gone Girl" feel with this movie. If you've never seen that movie, I'd call that one of the best modern thrillers I've seen. It's dark and disturbing, but perfectly crafted by David Fincher, who rarely misses when it comes to his directorial filmography. The fact that "A Simple Favor" was reminding me of "Gone Girl" made me super happy inside as I became fully invested in the movie. It was feeling like a movie of the year candidate that was even superseding "Searching" as the best thriller of 2018. But I will say that there comes a point where you can tell that this a David Fincher directed movie, but rather a Paul Feig movie. Had this been a David Fincher film, I would have no doubt that this would've been an excellent movie that would leave me lost in thought long after I left the theater because I can only imagine what he could've done with these characters and this setup. But no, this is not quite that type of movie. When push comes to shove, I was totally fine with that because what we ended up with was quite the enjoyable ride in its own way.
The final thing I'll say is that there does come a point where the movie reveals itself. Like every good thriller, there's a mysterious nature to this. A lot of thrillers make you wait for a long time before they reveal all their secrets, usually delivering a powerful twist positively impacts the viewing experience. I love these moments in thrillers. If you can successfully get my jaw to hit the floor, I will praise you to the high heavens. However, "A Simple Favor" is slightly different in that it doesn't rely on the twists. Rather it reveals its hand a lot earlier than I expected. For a moment I felt super smart that I had figured out all the secrets early on. But then I realized everyone in the theater probably felt the same way, so I immediately shrunk back down. From then on, the enjoyment of the film is predicated on whether or not you accept what the movie becomes. I personally did. And it's a journey that, while remaining its sense of drama and thrills, also doesn't take itself too seriously, almost in a Bond-esque way even though it never blends into becoming an action film. Yes, I was on the edge of my seat for a while, but then I was given the opportunity to slide back and relax, making this a unique experience that I wound up enjoying. Thus my grade for "A Simple Favor" will be an 8/10.