Movie Review: ‘Greta’ Starring Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe
For the first time in quite a while, I went to a see movie without knowing much of anything about it – that movie being Greta. I knew it starred Chloe Grace Moretz, whom I’ve been fond of since her breakout roles in 500 Days of Summer and more notably, Kick-Ass, and that the film was going to be a thriller. Great. I’m in.
Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), Greta follows Frances McMullen, a young waitress in New York who’s living with her friend Erica (Maika Monroe) and dealing with the emotional distress of losing her mother recently. During a ride home on the subway one night, she discovers a handbag that was left behind. Despite Erica’s more convenient albeit immoral solution in just keeping it, Frances decides to take the high ground and return it to Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert), whose ID paved the way to what should have been a one-and-done encounter. It would actually turn into the worst mistake of her life.
While seemingly charming at first, it’s evident very quickly that Greta has a dark side. It turns out to be a very very dark side, as her obsession with Frances becomes more and more abrasive as the film builds. I do think, perhaps, her turn happens much too early in the film, however. Not enough time was spent with the charming side of Greta to really impact the viewer when things begin to go south.
In addition, the film starts of pretty shaky in regards to the screenplay. Wasted exchanges with often laughable dialogue are used to set up later moments in the film. Want to know how Frances knows how to find Greta in a church on Friday later in the film? “My husband used to play organ here on Fridays,” Greta tells her. “It’s Friday,” Frances responds. “I know.”
And that’s not even the worst exchange in the movie.
Beyond that, the biggest problem I had with the film was that Frances’ character is written so poorly. Moretz does her best with the script she has and her performance is just okay, but I can’t think of a single good decision her character makes in this film beyond the initial returning of the lost bag. Every poor decision leads her further down the rabbit hole of crazy and it makes it very hard to root for her when she’s written to appear more naive than someone half her age.
There are a number of other little things to pick away at too. Greta’s Nokia phone has no business taking as good of photos as it does. When things start getting sticky, she had the proof she needs to get the police involved more thoroughly, so why doesn’t she? When she does try to get the police involved initially, why are they so quick to dismiss it and not even talk to Greta who’s fifty feet away? For plot, I guess. It’s just an incredibly lazy one.
The real shining moment of the movie is Greta herself. As said above, we don’t get enough time with her facade before going full psycho, but Isabelle Huppert is genuinely terrifying as a stalker extraordinaire. Her do-whatever-it-takes approach to satisfy her desire to have a daughter figure to care for again mixes unfortunately well with Frances’ desire to have a mother again and at times provides for somewhat of a thrilling movie. But the people who I think would enjoy Greta the most won’t actually get to see it because it’s mistakenly rated R and I can’t think of a single reason why it should be.