"It’s a shame Greta isn’t as good as the deliciously dark Isabelle Huppert "
Isabelle Huppert proved how expertly she can play a deeply dark and twisted individual in 2016's Elle, which rightly landed her an Oscar nomination, so it’s no surprise that she is the perfect fit for the villain character in Greta. It's just a shame that the film isn't quite as good as she is.
Chloe Grace Moretz stars as Frances McCullen, a young girl who’s recently moved to New York City from Boston, who works as a waitress and lives with best friend Erica (Maika Monroe). One day she spots a handbag on its own on the subway and picks it up. Lost and Found is closed so she takes it back to the owner, thanks to the driving licence inside. She meets Greta (Huppert), a lonely French widow, and they enjoy an unlikely friendship until Frances discovers multiple handbags and realises Greta has been playing the same game for years and she's fallen into her trap. She tries to distance herself from her but Greta is obsessed and begins stalking and harassing Frances.
The premise was strong and exciting and something straight out the ‘90s, since who in their right mind would touch an unknown bag on the subway nowadays?! If you suspend your belief enough to believe that could actually happen, it's a fun but predictable ride. You could see every plot development coming and that killed a lot of the thrills. Admittedly there were some moments that surprised me – a couple of unexpected jumps and gruesome moments - but largely it wasn't.
Moretz is a very good actress, her performance in The Miseducation of Cameron Post can attest to that, but she doesn't get much to do except fluctuate between being scared, angry and totally stupid and naive. She’s pretty convincing as the terrified, desperate victim but she’s mainly reactive and easily outshone by her co-stars. Huppert is delightfully dark and twisted in the role and seems to take much pleasure in it, which in turn makes her performance very enjoyable to watch. Monroe did a lot with a best friend supporting part and gave Erica a great attitude and feistiness.
Greta is billed as a psychological thriller so I didn't expect it to be quite so silly. The characters, particularly Frances, make dumb, annoying decisions, and some moments are just totally ridiculous and filled with clichés. It was also unexpectedly funny and it was hard to know if this was deliberate. Were we laughing with them or at them?! The film still has a creepy vibe and a couple of jumpy and bloody moments but it is largely just a trashy, predictable and cheesy slice of old school entertainment. That's not necessarily a bad thing and I did enjoy it a fair bit but it didn't deliver on the high expectations I had.