Film Review: Greta
Director: Neil Jordan
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Isabelle Huppert, Maika Monroe, Zawe Ashton, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea
Running Time: 98
Australian Distributor: Universal Pictures Australia
Isabelle Huppert doesn’t make films in the English language that often, but when she does it’s always a treat for her legion of non-French speaking fans. Greta is director Neil Jordan’s first film in six years, and it’s one of those thrillers where you see almost every twist coming, but the actors are so into it that you still get sucked in.
Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) is travelling home on the subway when she spots a forgotten purse. She puts her good Samaritan hat on and decides to return it to the owner personally. Greta (Isabelle Huppert) is grateful and touched by the gesture, and though they’re an unlikely pair, they form a friendship. Greta is a lonely widow with an estranged daughter and a hole in her life. Frances is working as a waitress while she tries to find direction for her life without the help of a mother (who passed). So you might say the two fill slots in each other’s hearts, and therefore their friendship blossoms quickly. Frances’s roommate Erica (Maika Monroe) doesn’t get what her friend sees in the older woman, but there’s a certain comfort there – not a replacement for her mother of course, but a sense of validation and care in a world where fewer and fewer genuine connections are made.
But this is not a movie about female friendship. One evening, when Frances is eating dinner at Greta’s house, she stumbles upon a cupboard filled with purses identical to the one she found and returned. They all have ID and similar contents, and they’ve all been labelled with a name and number, presumably of the person who has returned it. Confused and appalled, Frances makes a hasty exit. But it’s too late. Greta has decided that Frances will be her friend. For life. Like it or not. Which is when things get scary.
It’s fascinating to observe the dynamics between Greta and Frances even though some of it feels heavy-handed and contrived. If only Jordan were to have trusted the audience’s intelligence and emotions more because there the dialogue at times comes across as too “on the nose” and suffers from over explanation.
Isabelle Huppert puts the psycho into psychodrama. The ramp she builds up toward sinister is subtle. It is a fantastic performance. She’s deranged in a way that makes you want to laugh, just slightly, until you get those chills down your spine.
Greta veers wildly from an off-the-wall original to a quite predictable film. But its unevenness isn’t going to stop the film from being one of those movies that people talk about and remember for a long time.
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