Oscar-winning director Neil Jordan’s latest, Greta, is a genre-piece that offers up some silly thrills that for the most part, work for entertainment’s sake.
Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young New Yorkian, finds a lost handbag on the subway and from the goodness of her own heart decides to return to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the well-to-do Frances is that the bag’s rightful owner, Greta (Isabelle Huppert), is a deranged stalker that uses the ‘lost bag’ ploy to befriend young women, and keep them as friends by any means necessary.
The film plays out like a watered down foreign thriller (mainly due to the French flair provided by Huppert) that feels like its holding back from pushing any boundaries of the genre. It’s a mild horror and thriller that never quite hits a shock-factor that some of its European counterparts have been known for. This decision in the writing suits the film well enough to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, but for anyone looking to be on the edge of their seats, they’ll need to look elsewhere. There just isn’t enough here to get audiences talking long after the film’s conclusion (though, there is a nice twist at the end).
Isabelle Huppert steals the show as the film’s namesake, proving her long repertoire of playing dramatic, tension-filled characters with dark histories (see 2016’s Elle, 2017’s Happy End and 2001’s The Piano Teacher for proper thrills) comes second-nature to the renowned actress. Chloë Grace Moretz is always good value in any film she’s in and it’s no different here, however, her character’s constant deer-in-the-headlights look and naivety gets pretty tiresome, quickly. Maika Monroe provides a nice counterbalance as Frances’ roommate Erica, whose eyes are wide-open to Greta’s strangeness long before Frances will admit it.
Greta’s most redeeming quality is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and quite regularly provides segments of humour. This works to its favour, not needing to rely on shock value to get a response from the audience (though it would have nice to have it and get everyone’s heart pumping). Jordan’s film at times feels like a B-movie with an A-movie cast and one that the director decided to take on for a bit of fun to kill some time; a turn-your-brain-off film with some cheap thrills.
Audiences should not expect much from Greta and going into it that way will provide the best viewing experience. It’s not very memorable, but enjoyable in the moment. A film that felt like it never reached its full potential.
The restaurant scenes were shot over the space of a week. By the end of the week, the smell of fish on set was so bad, it made people need to leave early.
Deserted Island Movie Collection: The films of Quentin Tarantino.
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