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Greta (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 4, 2020


GRETA (2019)

Starring Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea, Zawe Ashton, Jeff Hiller, Thaddeus Daniels, Raven Dauda, Parker Sawyers, Graeme King, Jane Perry, Brandon Lee Sears, Arthur Lee, Rosa Escoda, Jessica Preddy, Nagisa Morimoto, Navi Dhanoa, Angela Thompson and Graeme Thomas King.

Screenplay by Ray Wright and Neil Jordan.

Directed by Neil Jordan.

Distributed by Focus Features. 98 minutes. Rated R.

Greta answers an interesting question: If you take a cheesy potboiler storyline and give it to two extremely accomplished actresses in the lead and a respected, arty director, will that turn it into an artistic triumph?

Not quite, but due to its game stars and director, Greta is a much better fright film than you might expect.

The storyline is a variation of many films you have seen before. Director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Mona Lisa, Interview with the Vampire) even acknowledged in a recent screening Q&A at the Philadelphia Film Center that this was the first time in his long career that he has done a “stalker” movie.

The basic storyline is simple. Chloë Grace Moretz plays Frances, a sweet young woman from the heartland living in New York, crashing in her best friend’s spectacular rent-controlled apartment and working as a waitress in an upscale eatery. She has moved to the big city trying to deal with the sudden death of her mother.

One day on the subway, she finds a designer handbag on a seat. As an obvious non-native New Yorker, she picks up the bag instead of calling the bomb squad. She tries to take it to the lost and found, but it was closed. So, she decides to look for some ID and take the bag back to the woman who lost it.

That woman is Greta (Huppert), an aging woman who lives in a gorgeous hidden apartment in the middle of the city. She says she is a piano teacher from France, who is estranged from her daughter but misses her desperately.

Frances and Greta become friends, but then suddenly Frances notices that many of the things she is saying makes no sense. Then she finds that Greta is acting rather needy. When Frances decides to cut her off, Greta goes all Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction on Frances. She will not be ignored.

French superstar Isabelle Huppert – in one of her too infrequent English language films – is particularly impressive, simply because she goes all out in the characterization. She is not afraid of looking silly, or evil. She embraces the lunacy of the title character. She constantly appears to be on the verge of snapping – well, except for those moments when she actually does.

Moretz’s character is a little safer, a little more common, but she brings a smart vulnerability to it.

Greta is basically a potboiler, but it heats things up in style. It is worth seeing for Huppert alone. Luckily, there is even more to the movie than that.

You may never look at cookie cutters the same way again.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: March 1, 2019.

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