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Greta (2019) - Movie Review

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Greta (2019) - Movie

There’s a delicious element of B-movie camp that snakes its way through the frames of director Neil Jordan’s new film called Greta. Jordan knows he has crafted a technically astute psychological thriller with tinges of Hitchcock and Fincher. But the moments where he goes full-on over-the-top gonzo are the film’s most enjoyable. Sadly, there just aren’t enough of those moments.

The film’s premise relies on a precarious conceit that seems better suited to a film from twenty years ago, yet one that requires our total buy-in for the whole thing to work. The plot is set into motion when a mislaid woman’s handbag is found on a subway car. Since when do we not run in the opposite direction of an abandoned backpack or handbag on public transportation? Or at least report it to the authorities.

"In all its guilty pleasure glory, Greta frequently flirts with something really great."


Anyway, the bag is found by young twenty-something Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass), who dutifully returns it to its rightful owner, an elderly French widow named Greta (Isabella Huppert, Elle) who is eternally grateful for Frances’ graciousness. So grateful, in fact, that she invites Frances into her quaint Brooklyn abode for dinner where the two soon discover that they have a lot in common. Turns out Greta recently lost her husband and Frances her mother. The two get along just swimmingly until Frances discovers that Greta isn’t really who she has made herself out to be.

It is spoiling nothing (it is revealed in the trailers) to tell you that the bag is a plant by Greta who uses the trick to lure unsuspecting young women to her home. This is the point at which the film becomes fun as it starts to turn into some kind of mash-up of Fatal Attraction and Cape Fear, yet not as good either of those two films. It would be spoiling too much, however, to tell you exactly where things go from here. But let’s just say that Greta goes as mad as a monkey on a trike as Frances’ rejections begin to sink in.

The script, by Jordan (The Crying Game) and Ray Wright (The Crazies) only works as well as it does because of Huppert’s brilliant performance. Yes, she goes way over the top during the film’s second act and pretty much stays there as we soon learn that her Greta isn’t really French, nor is she totally sane. Huppert absolutely owns many of the film’s best moments as she goes totally unhinged in fits of batsh*t delirium. But it makes us realize that Jordan’s film is having trouble keeping up. It doesn’t lean into what it has become quite hard enough, and instead pulls on the reins to take on the much meatier themes of loneliness, grief, and independence.

Moretz is equally good in her role. Her Frances isn’t the total shrinking violet we first believe she is, as she goes through a well-developed arc from reluctant savior to eventually taking the initiative to get Greta out of her life. And Moretz is totally up to the task with a performance that proves she is more than just another poor sap in a psycho-stalker thriller.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the cast that features Colm Feore (House of Cards) as Frances’ father and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as her roommate, Erica with whom she shares their Tribeca apartment, and Stephen Rea (Underworld: Awakening) as the private detective hired to look into Greta’s shenanigans. It isn’t that they don’t pull their weight, but rather, that they are in mostly throwaway roles.Greta (2019) - Movie

Another of the film’s unfortunate misgivings is inherent to its script. The aforementioned signature twist comes at around the film’s 15-minute mark and, from that point on, we know where everything is headed. In addition, a series of shocking revelations, double-crosses, and tacked-on twists further stretch any credibility the film has gained.

In all its guilty pleasure glory, Greta frequently flirts with something really great. Parts of it are devilishly entertaining, some are downright dull, and others dabble a bit too much in boilerplate thriller tropes. When it hits, it scores big points. It’s just too bad that it doesn’t quite fully buy into its own B-movie trashiness.

2 stars

Greta (2019) - Movie

MPAA Rating: R for some violence and disturbing images.
Runtime:
99 mins
Director
: Neil Jordan
Writer:
Ray Wright, Neil Jordan
Cast:
Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe
Genre
: Thriller
Tagline:
Don't take the bait.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I don't get many visitors here since my daughter left"
Theatrical Distributor:
Focus Features
Official Site: www.focusfeatures.com/greta
Release Date:
March 1, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: A sweet, naïve young woman trying to make it on her own in New York City, Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) doesn’t think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner is Greta (Isabelle Huppert), an eccentric French piano teacher with a love for classical music and an aching loneliness. Having recently lost her mother, Frances quickly grows closer to widowed Greta. The two become fast friends — but Greta’s maternal charms begin to dissolve and grow increasingly disturbing as Frances discovers that nothing in Greta’s life is what it seems in this suspense thriller from Academy Award®-winning director Neil Jordan.

Greta (2019) - Movie

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Greta (2019) - Movie

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