I wrote a blog post earlier in the summer about how Ocean’s 8 was the gayest movie of the year, but I was wrong. I was so wrong. A Simple Favor is the gayest movie of the year.
Not only did this movie deftly navigate the fine line between comedy and suspense, it actually delivers on queer representation. Unlike other movies that hinge their promotions on queerbaiting (*cough* pitch perfect *cough*), A Simple Favor doesn’t shy away from depicting the sexual tension between Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and Emily (Blake Lively).
Their chemistry is evident from the second the pair meet. Emily, sporting a three piece suit, walks in slow motion toward Stephanie, whose reaction is literally the definition of gay panic.
It doesn’t take long for Stephanie and Emily to develop a close relationship that is laden with heavy flirtation and intense eye contact. (To be honest, if Blake Lively called me baby that many times in a 15 minute period while sipping a martini, then I would have literally burst into flames.)
As the movie progresses, it becomes apparent that Emily utilizes her sensuality to control those around her. I’ll avoid spoilers, but there are several instances of Emily using sex to cement her manipulation of both men and women. Prior to meeting her husband, Emily has a committed, longterm relationship with an artist named Diana. This woman is utterly captivated by Emily’s beauty and becomes fixated on painting her form. Unfortunately, the pair break up and Diana is left completely heartbroken.
However, Diana isn’t Emily’s only female conquest. She mentions other same-sex experiences she’s had throughout her life and completely rejects a traditional heteronormative relationship. While Emily is indisputably psychotic, the film is careful to avoid the depraved bisexual trope. As one article states, “what’s refreshing is that the character’s [queerness] isn’t made into a nefarious detail about her…what makes Emily shady is everything but her sexuality.”
A Simple Favor does a superb job of depicting the fluidity of sexual orientation. When Emily first reveals her history with women to Stephanie, she’s shocked but not judgmental. In fact, Stephanie’s response reads like a young queer woman who encounters a lesbian for the first time. They get flustered and borderline uncomfortable because it stirs deep-seated emotions within them.
And it’s clear from the beginning of the movie that Stephanie isn’t exactly straight. (Do most people sneak beauty shots of their friends when they aren’t looking?)
Stephanie is utterly enamored by Emily’s powerful aura while Emily is fascinated by Stephanie’s faux innocence. The pair are so inexplicably drawn to each other that they start hanging out almost daily. During one of their gin inspired heart-to-hearts, Emily confesses a dark secret and begins to cry.
Hoping to offer comfort and support, Emily kisses her. (Now, I must have blacked out from gay overload at this point because I literally don’t remember what happens next.)
But this kiss wasn’t just for shock value. A Simple Favor didn’t pull a John Tucker Must Die and randomly have Sophia Bush kiss Brittany Snow under the guise of instruction. No, this lip lock meant something. It signified deep affection between the two woman and alluded to Stephanie’s main character flaw.
She is incapable of recognizing healthy relationships. She perpetually confuses comfort for love and becomes romantically attached to people during periods of intense grief.
*Real Spoilers Ahead*:
In one particularly tense scene near the end of the movie, Stephanie points a gun at Emily. Overcome with emotion, Stephanie confesses that she had loved Emily and felt deeply betrayed by her actions.
“I loved you.”
Those three words validate Emily’s and Stephanie’s relationship. It legitimizes their sexual compatibility and, in my opinion, is integral to the plot. Without this deep affection, Stephanie wouldn’t have been fueled by grief to fall in love with Emily’s husband (I know, that happens too) or solve the mystery of her disappearance. By actually offering canonical representation instead of just implying queerness, A Simple Favor far surpasses other movies of its kind.
Not only did the plot of this movie keep me completely captivated, but it also fulfilled my teenage fantasy of Serena van der Woodsen being into women. It’s no wonder that Anna Kendrick came out as sexually fluid after shooting this movie. I think every single woman who watched A Simple Favor shifted at least one number up on the Kinsey scale.
I mean, how could you not?!
In all sincerity, Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively crushed their performances. I don’t think any person other than Anna could have pulled off Stephanie’s awkward, dark and unassumingly hilarious personality. Together, Blake and Anna were able to infuse comedy into dramatic scenes without being trite.
After seeing this movie I will ship them forever. (Sorry, you did this to me.)
If you don’t feel like watching A Simple Favor for its plot, then go see it for Blake Lively’s flawless and jaw-dropping wardrobe. You will not be disappointed.