Directed by Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire), Greta follows a surprising friendship between two unlikely strangers. Francis (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) has recently moved to New York from Boston with her roommate, Erica, in the hopes of starting afresh after the death of her mother. She has a chance encounter with Greta—a widow played by Isabelle Huppert—after she finds her purse on the subway and goes out of her way to return it to Greta’s home. Loneliness is what instantly connects these two strangers; within Greta, Francis finds everything she’s been searching for: a mother.
The pair quickly forge an inseparable bond, but all goes awry when Francis discovers a cupboard full of duplicates of the exact purse she returned to Greta. It gets weirder—each purse is labelled with different women’s names. Disturbed by her findings, Francis attempts to put some distance between them and tries to move on with her life. Bruised by Francis’ abrupt neglect and driven by a sinister obsession, Greta begins to stalk and harass her.
Huppert is magnetic in the role of Greta, teetering the line between compassionate mother-figure, and sadistic serial killer with such intensity—it had me wondering why the bloody hell I decided to go see this movie alone! Her powerful performance is bolstered by snappy, startling camera work, which did well to trigger my long-standing anxiety—thanks for that, Neil Jordan. Moretz is also strong and sympathetic in her role, holding her own alongside acting royalty.
Alas, it’s the actor’s dedication alone that manages to keep this film afloat. At times, the dialogue makes for awkward, clunky viewing. Tense moments are rendered dull and frustrating. In a scene in which Greta has followed Francis to her apartment, she creeps out of the shadows and says: “I’m like chewing gum, I stick around,” before spitting gum into her hair. If Huppert’s performance wasn’t so convincing, I would have absolutely cracked up.
Greta’s temperamental outbursts and her cruel sadistic ploys to lure in Francis, keep the viewers engaged. Huppert’s acting chops are just about enough to take us through some of the film’s most ridiculous moments.
As most bland horror flicks go, there’s a lot about Greta and Francis that remains painfully surface level, and the film doesn’t quite live up to the psychological thriller we were all anticipating. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of stalking, kidnapping and torment to go around—but there’s no subtext, and definitely not enough detail about Greta’s deceitful past—which would have aided the story had it been included.
Is Greta worth forking out your hard-earned coin? Possibly. Mortez gives a solid performance, and Huppert will guarantee you never trust anyone again for the rest of your life. If you can withstand a little bit of cheese and endure a handful of mostly useless supporting characters, Greta will most definitely tickle you. If anything, at least you’ll leave the theatre having learned some important life-lessons: Trust no one. Ever. Avoid good deeds as much as humanely possible because people are evil. Public transport is for suckers. And for God’s sake don’t trust little old ladies.
Greta is out in cinemas now.