“A Simple Favor” (Lionsgate)

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively star in a scene from the movie "A Simple Favor. (CNS/Lionsgate)

By Catholic News Service

Lurid thriller in which a mild-mannered young widow (Anna Kendrick) strikes up an unlikely friendship with the sophisticated, hard-bitten mother (Blake Lively) of one of her son’s classmates. But when her new pal mysteriously disappears and she tries to track her down, she discovers just how little she really knew about her.

Director Paul Feig’s glossy screen version of Darcey Bell’s 2017 novel, which also features Henry Golding as the missing woman’s husband, is undeniably ingenious. Yet the dark doings, both past and present, that drive the plot involve repellent behavior that, while not exactly endorsed by Jessica Sharzer’s script, is not condemned either. Instead, the taboo-breaking is treated as spice to lure jaded viewers.

Gunplay and other violence with little gore, drug use, strong sexual content, including a semi-graphic scene of incest and an off-screen aberrant act, brief rear female and partial nudity, about a half dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough and frequent crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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