A Simple Favor (2018)

Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) and starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, A Simple Favor is a difficult film to categorise. I’ve heard it called a thriller, a domestic comedy, and even ‘Cute Noir’ (yeah, I don’t know what that is either). I suppose it has elements of each, but to be honest I’m still not really sure where to put it.

Anna Kendrick is Stephanie, an eager to please young widow who spends her time raising a son, filming vlogs from her kitchen, and being well intentioned, if generally a little too over the top. Mocked by a trio of other parents, in something akin to an adult version of Mean Girls, Stephanie is a little bit of a loner – albeit a very chirpy one. Blake Lively is Emily, and the antithesis of Stephanie; elegant, aloof, enigmatic and completely unperturbed about the opinions of others. She swears carelessly, has a nude portrait of herself hanging in her home, and drinks martinis in the afternoon. Despite their obvious differences, the two women come together as a result of their sons’ friendship, and strike up a friendship of their own. Mere weeks after their first encounter, Emily suddenly, unexpectedly disappears. And here begins a series of twists and turns that drive the rest of the film.

Stephanie, a self proclaimed problem solver, decides to delve into the mystery of Emily’s disappearance, whilst smoothly integrating herself into the life of the family Emily leaves behind. Her husband Sean (Henry Golding) can shed little light on the enigma that is his wife, admitting that she is an intensely private person, even with him. Cliches abound as the movie drives towards the middle, and with them comes a cringeworthy predictability that you could put money on. Though to it’s credit, there are a few key scenes and revelations that help to alleviate an otherwise unsurprising tale. As the movie progresses and the aforementioned twists begin to come into play, it becomes clear that despite their shiny Stepford exteriors, neither woman is entirely who she appears to be.

There is enough intrigue in the beginning to propel the film forward, but at a certain point it begins to drag out to a contrived, almost laughable conclusion. The humour is at odds with the somewhat darker subject matter, which works in some places (watch for the scene where Emily makes a candid, off the cuff remark about her labia) yet falls flat in others.

A Simple Favor, much like it’s central characters, can’t be taken at face value. There is more to it than the trailer suggests, and it’s doesn’t cleanly fit into any genre. It had the potential to be a really great film. The premise was good, the two talented female leads have obvious chemistry and play their respective characters incredibly well, and some of the costumes were to die for. Let’s be real, if I looked as good as Blake Lively in a suit, I’d wear them all the time. Yet Feig’s attempt to combine his typical direction and stylistic humour, and play it off against the ‘femme fatale’ character that dominates more elegant thrillers like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, doesn’t blend especially well. Whilst the film itself wasn’t bad, there were definitely aspects that could have been more finely tuned to create a more satisfying cinema experience. Nevertheless, if ever there was such a thing as a light hearted thriller, A Simple Favor is it.

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One Day

“One day,” she said, “someone is going to look at you, and see all the things they ever hoped for. You won’t have to spend another night with Loneliness for your only companion, or crying silently in the dark where no one can see. One day, someone is going to choose you, and they will keep on choosing you, every single day thereafter. One day, my sweet child, you are going to be happy. Do not give up hope, nor resign yourself to bitterness. And remember that you are worth so much more than you think.”

Forgotten Friends

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately, about the people in my life, and the people who aren’t in it anymore. As a self confessed hater of people, it’s not unusual for me to quietly remove myself from the lives of people I once knew. People with whom I have not had a conversation in a year. People that I no longer share common interests with, or who I can safely say I don’t even know anymore. People with whom I have simply mutually agreed not to talk to anymore. There are a lot of reasons why people come into our lives, and a lot of reasons why they leave.

I was thinking first of my school friends. I don’t recall the last time I really saw or spoke to any of them. Where once we were as close as family, I see the occasional social media post from these girls and realise, I have no idea how they got to where they are, or what they are currently doing with their respective lives. Sure, there have been halfhearted attempts to stay in contact in the years following high school, but those attempts have long since stopped entirely. And there’s certainly no malice in it. It’s not that I’ve had any kind of falling out with them. It’s more that a distance has grown between us, as happens to school friends as you get older. I bear none of these girls any ill will, and would hope that they feel the same way about me.

Then I think about people I used to work with. Friends who, at the time, felt as close to me as any person I had known. But, as happens, jobs change and people change and all of a sudden you realise it’s been months, or years since you last saw those people. And in a way, I’m saddened by that. I have made friends through work that I thought I would have forever. I’ve shared great times with them, and now I think of the people I worked with and I feel separate from them, in a way I didn’t realise would effect me quite so much as it does.

People live their lives in different ways, ways that take them in different directions from friends and family. Sometimes it’s worth holding onto friendships, and sometimes it’s better to just let them fade away into acquaintances. Then, of course, there are those people who it’s better to just walk away from altogether. More than once, I’ve ended a relationship (in this case, both romantic and non romantic relationships) bluntly and with no possible hope for reconciliation. When something is done, it’s done. And I’m all about letting go of the things that hold you back or drag you down.

I think a lot of us buy into the idea that ‘friends for life’ are the only kind of friends worth having. And certainly, when we meet and become close with someone, it’s difficult to imagine that there may be a time when that closeness is gone. No one likes to consider the possibility that a relationship might end, especially one that both parties get a lot out of. I know myself that I have people in my life that I can’t imaging being without. But you can’t predict the future (or at least, I can’t), and nothing is set in stone. And anyone can be a friend, regardless of whether you know them your entire life, or just for a week. We need to let go of the idea that we have to maintain failing relationships. Of course I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, but there comes a point when trying is futile. Letting go of useless or toxic people, might hurt initially but it’s going to be better in the long run.

As I got older, I came to realise that it’s not about the number of friends you have, or even necessarily about the amount of time you spend with them. I have two best friends, both of whom I mostly see at work. I have a very close friend that I talk to at least weekly, and a handful of friends I see semi regularly, or whenever we’re able. I have very few close friends, but those I have I am extraordinarily fond of. And even if something happens and my friendships with these people disintegrates over time, at least I can say that the people I have in my life at any given time, are the people who are meant to be there.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I got a hair cut yesterday. I’ve been hankering to chop off my locks for months, despite pretty much everyone I know telling me I shouldn’t. The salon finally called me back this week and I booked my appointment, much to my relief. I sat in the chair yesterday, and watched my hair fall to the floor. I felt better and better with every snip of the hairdressing scissors.

The change was not drastic. I lost maybe three inches of length, tidied all the layers and finally found a hairdresser who actually knows what a side fringe is. But it was enough to make me feel considerably better. And I didn’t even necessarily feel bad, just tired of the same old look. My hair, falling to somewhere around waist length, is the one feature I get complimented on most often. Which, I suppose, is why everyone was so hesitant to see it get hacked off (not that I care overly about other people’s opinions on what I should do with my own hair, mind you). But I’ve been growing it for five years, so for me the change was overdue.

It’s kind of funny how something as small as a haircut can make all the difference to one’s mental state. Now, if I could just lose ten kgs and actually fit into some of my old clothes again, I’d feel heaps better! But either way, a haircut is just the beginning. An overhaul is coming. I need to break free of the cycle of negative I’ve been trapped in for months, and with this new look, I feel I can focus on a new outlook.

Simplicity

It looks as though, once again, I will be making a move within the next few months. If things turn out the way I’m hoping they will, I’ll be set to return to my home town, and wave goodbye to the town I have only recently moved to.

I moved away to be closer to a job I no longer have. That is the long and the short of it. It’s not where I expected to be at this time in the year, but it’s where I am nevertheless. Since the only friends I have in my current town are always working, I am very much by myself pretty much all the time. Which makes being in an unfamiliar town somewhat…dull. Add to this, the fact that I am desperately broke, and you have a recipe for misery.

I am also contemplating selling off much of my stuff. Furniture wise, there’s nothing I care too much to keep. Ideally, I’d like to move into a new place with a completely fresh start. Lately I’ve been aching for simplicity. To rid myself of all the complex things, material and immaterial alike, and and de-clutter my life. I feel that a large part of the reason why I seem to be floundering so much this year is because I’m holding onto heavy things. Subconsciously, my brain is feeling overcrowded and my life is much the same way.

If I do end up moving back home, I’ve made myself a promise to try and get my shit together. It’s not going to be easy, but I can start small and go from there. So long as I’m making progress, so long as I’m moving forward, even by tiny increments, then I think I’ll be ok.

A Curated Life; Thoughts on Social Media

Instagram is probably my most used social media account. I recent got rid of Facebook again, because I find it insufferable and dull, but something about Instagram is hard to stay away from. However as I was doing my obligatory morning scroll through my feed today, I got increasingly disheartened and I’m considering taking a break from all social media altogether.

I follow quite a few different accounts. Some are for sewing, some for shopping, some for art, some for travel, and some because I just think the girls who own the accounts are pretty, and my homosexual heart is a sucker for a nice face. Many of these photos that come up that look so beautiful, are posed and edited and, in a lot of cases, fake. But it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to look at all these carefully curated photos and think “why doesn’t my life look like that?” Comparatively, I feel like I’m a dull, grey person in a world full of shiny bright people and I can’t help but occasionally feel a bit boring. Which is, of course, no fault of the other account holders.

Let’s be honest here; many photos uploaded to social media are altered to appear better. That is the very nature of the beast, after all. And it’s easy to forget that the facade people put forward to the world only shows the happy shiny pieces of their lives that they want to share. It rarely discusses, in an open and honest way, about the other half of life. The struggles, the anxieties, the being awake at 3 in the morning and wondering if you’ll ever be good enough. Ok, so maybe not everyone feels that way, but my point stands.

We average people – that is to say, those of us who aren’t fantastic photographers, and have no idea how to edit a photo – must not appear very interesting in comparison. Where other accounts show a series of colour coordinated images and carefully posed and timed shots, my account is a cacophony of random images that I’ve shot very unprofessionally on my phone camera. Where they have an ‘aesthetic’, I have whatever I’ve taken a photo of at the time. Where they constantly dress in gorgeous clothing (often times made by companies they’re being sponsored by), I’m over here decked head to toe in K-Mart.

Sewing, books, Brooklyn 99…this is my life

I sometimes get caught up in the fantasy of social media, because it’s hard not to. All these accounts, many of which use their influence as their sole source of income, their entire purpose is to be beautiful. Because no one wants to see ‘ugly’ things on social media. But maybe if it was more realistic, more natural, then the supposed ugliness of being an everyday human being wouldn’t appear so different, or so uninteresting.

The thing is, life doesn’t have a filter. There’s no Photoshop application for the way you see the world, no cropping out the unhappy things, no turning up the saturation on a bleak outlook. Life is a mess. But at least it’s real, and I’ll take the messy real world over the bright, clean, designer world of social media any day.

Angry, Bitter Thoughts at 1am

I think I’m going insane. There’s a restless energy within me; insatiable, and infuriating in its endlessness. I want to run ten kilometers. Or beat a punching bag to death. Or fling myself out of a plane. Anything to release this toxic build up of emotion. I feel like I’m about to explode out of my skin, and I can’t make my brain stop. I just want it to stop.

I’ve been having nightmares. And during the day, I’m plagued by negative thoughts, and bad feelings I just can’t shake. All I want to do is shut my brain off, go to sleep, and wake up as someone else.

I’m suffocating.