Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz), a sweet, naïve young woman trying to make it on her own in New York City, doesn't think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner 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 charm begin to dissolve and grow increasingly disturbing as Frances discovers that nothing in Greta's life is what it seems in this suspense thriller directed by Academy Award winner Neil Jordan.
The whole "eccentric stalker" psychological thriller sub genre has honestly jumped the shark. Few films in the genre do anything to set themselves apart or stay memorable or even interesting. Unfortunately, Greta can't seem to buck that trend, to the point of being painfully predictable. I found myself predicting major plot points and character beats way before they actually happened, negating any sort of suspense right off the bat. I get the commentary on the well intentioned naivety of the millennial generation, I get the commentary on how society exploits the "niceness" of young women, I get the thematic significance of the socio-economic disparity between Greta and Frances, I've just seen it all done before so many times and done far more interestingly.
The film also has serious problems with pacing. It moves far too fast for me to buy Greta's obsession with Frances and it felt jarring how quickly the film moved through their relationship. This really hurts the whole movie as a whole as reveals that should really leave an impact on me just end up falling flat.
Despite all of this, I still found myself entertained by Greta. A lot of that comes down to just how outstanding the acting performances were. Isabelle Huppert was the entire reason I went to go see this movie and she does not disappoint in the slightest, completely stealing the show as Greta. The class and sophistication that she brings to the role makes the character alluring, fascinating and even darkly likable despite the horrific and evil things she ends up doing. You can absolutely tell she's having a blast chewing the scenery and you can definitely see why Frances begins the film so drawn to her. That being said, when her darker nature is revealed, Huppert is genuinely terrifying in the focused madness that she brings to this character. Nobody could have played her better.
Chloe Grace Moertz is also very solid. She's always been a solid actress and that's no different here, bringing a real wide eyed sweetness and innocence to the character of Frances that constantly had me rooting for her to escape Greta's clutches. She gives off an almost Snow White-esque vibe where her kindness and capacity for unconditional trust almost becomes her downfall and Moertz is honestly quite charming in the role.
I was really impressed by Maika Monroe, which is something I never thought I would say. She brings a radiant confidence and strength to her role of Erica and her comedic timing is surprisingly on point as well. She can act! Who knew?
I'll also give credit to the visual direction. While the writing leaves much to be desired, Neil Jordan's elegant, Gothic sensibilities bring a real beauty and glamour to the production. This is a gorgeous looking film and Jordan definitely manages to capture the enchanting nature of New York City from the eyes of a young Bostonian girl.
Overall, Greta is worth a a watch for the performances and the direction, but it's hardly worth catching in theaters. This has Netflix written all over it and I'm not sure if it really even justified a theatrical release. That being said, it's still a decent enough thriller to watch. It's painfully cliched and completely predictable, but it's a watchable thriller all the same.
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