The Movie Waffler New Release Review - GRETA | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - GRETA

greta movie review
A waitress befriends a lonely older woman, only to discover she is psychologically disturbed.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Neil Jordan

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Zawe Ashton, Stephen Rea

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Neil Jordan's Greta mashes up two currently unfashionable thriller sub-genres - the 'Psycho Biddy' movies of the '60s, in which older actresses like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had a ball playing absolute psychopaths (see What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and The Nanny), and the 'psychotic new friend' movies of the '90s, in which young stars like James Spader and Bridget Fonda found their lives ruined after befriending an initially affable nutter (see Bad Influence and Single White Female).

greta movie review


Here, the naive youngster is Frances (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz), a transplanted Bostonian waitress who is lucky enough to share a spacious Manhattan apartment with her cynical New Yorker mate, Erica (Maika Monroe). Much is made of how innocent and unsuited to life in the Big Apple Frances is, as though she came from some one-horse town in the MidWest rather than a big city like Boston. All of this is a setup for an act of kindness on the part of Frances when she finds a handbag left behind on the subway and returns it to its owner, Greta (Isabelle Huppert), a sixtysomething French woman living a lonely existence in the city.




Pining for her own late mother, Frances adopts Greta as a surrogate Mom, helping her pick out a dog at the local pound (uh oh), accompanying her on walks in the park and sharing dinners in her home. When Frances discovers a cupboard in Greta's home filled with identical handbags adorned with post-it notes detailing the names and phone numbers of other women, she makes her excuses and leaves. But Frances' attempts to ignore Greta don't work too well, and she finds herself the victim of Greta's increasingly demented campaign of stalking and harassment.

greta movie review


Greta is the sort of movie that's usually relegated to TV's Lifetime Network, but in their defence, made for TV thrillers usually have much tighter scripts than the slackly plotted Greta, and they've usually ironed out any plot inconsistencies by the time the script gets to the shooting stage. Greta is so absolutely riddled with plot holes, gaps in logic, improbable character behaviour and contradictory story beats that I spent much of its running time silently mouthing the words "Wait, what?" I was able to overlook its nonsensical storytelling and soak up the campness for much of its running time, but by its ludicrous final act my suspension of disbelief had been worn down by one plot hole too many. How does Character A get into Character B's home? How doesn't Character X recognise character Y? Why doesn't Character Z just stand on a chair to get over that wall... and on and on.




The main elephant in the room is the central idea that a twentysomething built like a javelin thrower would be intimidated by a woman old enough to be her grandmother. Greta relies an awful lot on a familiarity with the screen persona Huppert has fashioned over her career (it's no coincidence that Greta's instrument of choice is a piano, a nod to arguably the French star's most iconic performance). If her presence makes you think of some of the unhinged women she's played in the past, you might find Greta an intimidating figure, but Jordan's film does little of its own work to convince you of her scariness. Outside of cinephile circles, this will likely be an introduction to the talents of Huppert for most viewers, who will likely struggle to buy into the idea of her as an imposing antagonist.

greta movie review


Despite the potential in Greta's scenario to explore such themes as urban isolation, the loneliness of our elder citizens and the divide between millenials and previous generations, Greta is as shallow a thriller as any of its made for TV or straight to VOD cousins. It made me wonder what an auteur from Korea (the only country still taking the thriller genre seriously) might have made of this setup. Perhaps we'll get one of those rare remakes where a Hollywood movie is relocated to a foreign setting, but whoever takes it on will have a lot of work to plastering over its considerable plotholes.

Greta is in UK/ROI cinemas April 19th.


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