“Greta” focuses on Frances, a young girl dealing with familial pain. One day, she finds a purse on a subway. Being the good person that she is, Frances returns the purse to its rightful owner, ‘Greta.’ The two strike up a friendship. At first, everything goes well. But as time goes on, ‘Greta’ reveals her monstrous nature, a reincarnation of evil itself.
“Greta” is directed (and co-written) by Neil Jordan, a skilled filmmaker, known for “The Crying Game” and “Interview with the Vampire.” Here, Jordan understands that he has lightning in a bottle. Obsessive cinematic characters are infinitely interesting. They tend to be staples of cinema. Jordan, a patient filmmaker, crafts his obsessive character. He doesn’t rush the transformation. Thankfully, he realizes that rushing the transformation will minimize the film’s power.
Jordan crafts a seemingly innocent character, someone who would earn our trust in real life. His patience allows the character to be truly disturbing. As a whole, the patient storytelling makes Frances’ narrative all the more heartbreaking. Frances’ character arc represents our nightmares. As audience members, we once again realize that certain people are monsters in disguise. These monsters come in many forms and want to inflict their will upon us.
Like a woman possessed, Isabelle Huppert creates (for my money) her best performance yet. Huppert’s commitment makes Greta a force of great unpredictability. One minute, she is yelling at someone in a public area. The next minute, she is quietly sitting in a church. We don’t know when she will explode. If someone acts the same way all the time, you know what to expect. But if someone constantly changes their methods, they become even more dangerous. Their dangerous persona takes many forms, and they are able to attack you from different angles. Thus, Greta’s unpredictability creates a large cloud of dread, present throughout the film’s running time.
Overall, “Greta” is a story about interpersonal comfort. The situation seems outlandish. Why would a young girl trust an unknown adult? Luckily, the film establishes the broken nature of Frances, a girl who is dealing with the death of her mother. From Frances’ perspective, Greta is a female parental figure, capable of love and understanding.
The end result is a predicament that will push Frances’ anxiety to an all-time high. “Greta” is an effective reminder that we crave company. And sometimes, we reduce our logic. At times, we let our guard down, with the intent of trusting something that is sketchy at best. I have to give credit to Chloe Grace Moretz, who also turns in a successful performance. She is delightful as Frances, a cinematic character connected to large forms of innocence and naivety. Moretz’ warmth gives the film its DNA, and puts us onto the path of heartbreak.
“Greta” has some massive flaws. For one, the script is pretty weak. The characters aren’t logically constructed entities that naturally push a story forward. Instead, many of the characters are connected to cinematic ignorance. These characters execute idiotic tasks to push an unimaginative story forward. Also, the film often repeats itself. Many of the sequences are intriguing, and generate a sense of tension and mystery. But oftentimes, the film sticks to its previous cinematic devices. As a result, the narrative becomes predictable.
Overall, “Greta” is a flawed thriller. If you are a thriller or horror fan, you will predict much of the narrative. But in terms of talent, the film is a legitimate sight to behold. I believe that many viewers will enjoy Jordan’s thriller. It will get under people’s skin. Simply put, this film has too much talent behind it to be a cinematic misfire.
My Grade: B-