A Simple Favor: Let’s Talk About That Ending, Shall We?

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This post contains spoilers for A Simple Favor.

How does one best describe A Simple Favor, the truly bonkers new thriller from Paul Feig starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick? Upon first look at the trailer, it seemed like yet another polished Hollywood response to Gone Girl, David Fincher’s sleek blockbuster adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel about a housewife who escapes her old life and goes on a villainous tear. A Simple Favor has similar themes; it revolves around Stephanie, a devoted mommy vlogger (Kendrick) and her best friend Emily (Lively), a mysterious, sartorially blessed P.R. exec who up and disappears one day. For the first half of the movie, it’s just that—a straight-faced drama about a missing woman, peppered with twinges of dark humor. But the second half takes that Gone Girl splash and mixes it with the true-crime satire of Serial Mom, John Waters’s glossy 1994 romp about a picture-perfect housewife with a taste for murder. Which is to say, it loses its mind and takes the audience on a crazy, flashy journey, amping up each plot twist with a bigger, wilder plot twist. Let’s break it down, shall we?

SPOILERS ALL THE WAY DOWN

For starters, the crux of A Simple Favor rests on a time-honored plot-twist tradition: secret twin. Once Emily disappears, Stephanie starts digging and, after a long journey, finds out that Emily’s been lying about her identity. Her real name is Faith and she’s got an identical twin named Hope. The girls grew up in a strict household with a manic father, and one day they snap and set one wing of their giant house on fire, killing him. The story gets picked up in the local news, with folks wondering what happened to the girls. Worried about getting arrested—and aware that a pair of towering blonde twins are super conspicuous—the teens split up, agreeing to meet again at an agreed upon date. But when it’s time to meet, Hope doesn’t show up. So, Faith journeys off on her own, refashioning herself as Emily (after a whole side journey involving Linda Cardellini’s artist character) and becoming a high-powered publicity exec in Manhattan.

So, why, after landing a dream job, dream house, dream husband (Sean, played by immaculate prince Henry Golding) and exactly one adorable child, did she blow up her life and escape from it all? Money! The answer is always money. As Emily explains early on in the film, she and Sean are a little broke. Plus, they’ve struggled to sell their house, an item that would have lent them some quick cash. Now, this is where the twists get a little hairy because even though Emily says they’re broke, they still seem to live quite nicely. Sean works at a nearby university. She still has her exec job. If anything, they should have found a way to off the house and get some insurance money. Alas, sensible and illegal-light (O.K., illegal-heavy) are not the stuff of movie plots, honey!

Emily convinces Sean to take out a $4 million life-insurance policy on her and then disappears. When her sister, Hope, turns up again—now a lined, crippling junkie—and tries to blackmail her by drawing her out to Michigan and asking for a million dollars, Emily has her aha moment: she drowns Hope in the lake and, thanks to that whole identical twin thing, the police find the body and assume it’s her. Four-million dollars on the way, easy.

Oh, you sweet sucker. Of course, it’s not that simple (favor). Against their better judgment, Stephanie and Sean start hooking up, which makes Emily furious as she watches (somehow) from afar. Stephanie then investigates Emily’s disappearance and finds out everything, then drops incredibly bold subtweets on her mommy vlog (which Emily watches, furiously). The pair has a martini-drenched tête-à-tête at Emily’s (or shall we say “Emily’s”) gravesite, agreeing to a new plan: now, Emily will return to town and tell the police it was actually her twin who died (but, you know, not by murder). Then, she’ll say she escaped because Sean was actually an abusive partner.

So, why would Stephanie bother going along with this plan even though she’s now in love with Sean and Emily is a terrible friend? It’s because she’s not going along with it. Welcome to time-honored plot twist No. 2: fake-agreeing with the evil person’s plan so you can get a secretly taped confession of all the evil things they’ve done! It’s set up neatly. Emily and Sean meet face-to-face at their beautiful, unsellable house, where he asks all manner of why-would-yous and how-could-yous, hoping to tease a clean, audible confession for the police listening on mic nearby. Then Stephanie turns up wielding a gun and giving Emily her best crazy eyes, trying not so much to tease, but to straight up cudgel a confession. She even shoots Sean in the chest and it looks pretty convincing, with fake blood quickly pooling his chest. And they get the confession! Victory!

Just kidding, when will you learn? Emily, evil mastermind, saw this coming from a mile away so she (SOMEHOW?) cuts their mics! Plus, the SWAT team that Stephanie secretly asked to show up at the house? Yeah, Emily called them and, putting on her best Stephanie voice, convinced them the meet-up had been changed to another location. Then, she pulls out a surprise gun and actually shoots Sean in the chest. Thus, the moral of the story is that one should never cross Blake Lively . . .

But the secret twist moral is one should never cross a mommy vlogger! After Emily shoots Sean, Stephanie reveals that she’s actually been live-streaming the whole entire exchange via a tiny little camera on her chest that looks like a button. And the SWAT team (that actually turned up at the other location despite the whole, you know, live-streaming thing?) finally arrives. And then, young Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgård show up and start singing ABBA. Incredible!

Fine, that doesn’t really happen. But it is within the realm of possibility in A Simple Favor, which contains all realms and all possibilities. It ends with Stephanie living out her viral mommy-vlog dreams, Sean moving across the country, and Emily finding her niche . . . in prison.

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Source : https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/09/a-simple-favor-movie-ending