Greta Movie Review
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GRETA (2019) is the latest film from director Neil Jordan, and if you’re expecting a taunt thriller with harrowing twists and turns, you might want to save your money and watch a few squirrels raid your bird feeder.
Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a Boston transplant living in New York, mourning her mother and wallowing in loneliness. She finds a purse on the subway and decides to return it in person (I guess that’s what you do in Boston), meeting Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert), a widow and another lonely soul. Despite Frances’s best friend Ericka (Maika Monroe) strident objections and basic red flags about stranger danger, they make a connection that fills the missing mother absent daughter void. Frances makes a narrowing discovery and decided to cut Greta from her life, Greta isn’t having any of it, beginning a spiral of stalking and harassment.
Look – the way this movie works is Frances is a spineless dishrag who has no business trying to make it in Manhattan since deliberately ignores any and all red flags – constant phone calls, texts, unannounced visits. I’m not sure if the message is “never kind because it’ll get you drugged,” or “old lonely women are batspit crazy,” or “Neil Jordan has given up,” but for such a stellar cast, the writing feels completely phoned in. Ray Wright and Neil Jordan manage to turn a story about a co-dependent nightmare into an instruction manual on how to get murdered by a clingy ex. Nothing Frances does makes any sense and runs counter-intuitive to basic common sense, and just when you think she’s finally got her act together, she slides back into potential victim territory, and you’ll spend the last third of the movie just waiting for it to be over.
If this were a thriller where Frances was grifting Greta and Greta turned the tables, I would have been all in, and maybe that’s a movie for a better team to write. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of women dissolving into a puddle of uselessness when confronted by adversity or conflict or a really hard decision.
Huppert provides a subtle intensity that isn’t over the top, and she’s a grounding force in a movie that struggles to find footing as it careens into ridiculous nonsense. Greta forces her love on Frances and Frances can’t get out of her own way. Maika Monroe plays Erika, the savvy best friend who knows New York crazy without being the perennial party girl. All of her dire warnings are ignored, and while they initially look cynical, it is New York. As it’s a Neil Jordan film, Stephen Rae makes an appearance as a private investigator who’s too smart for his own good. Every other character in this movie makes sense except the main character – and that’s what sinks it. The writing uses the drama tropes on the easiest setting, and watching people in movies do stupid things just isn’t in any fun.
Greta (2019) is Rated R for swears, people getting drugged, people falling down, people being stalked, people being kidnapped, digits getting removed, needles getting used, and people getting shot.