Greta - Review

An admirable yet shallow thriller, elevated by a deliriously wicked Isabelle Huppert.


An Isabelle Huppert vehicle disguised as a genre flick, Greta succeeds far more than it has any right to. A deviously frantic performance from Huppert drives the film into a dank, bleak hole the heroine must claw herself out of, and just barely. It bears marks of director Neil Jordan’s storied career, and though it doesn’t quite live up to it, there’s no denying Greta is blood-curdling fun, if conventional, entertainment.

Casting is Greta’s greatest strength. The aforementioned Isabelle Huppert isn’t breaking any barriers, but she plays the titular stalker-turned-psycho with more ease than just about anybody else; she’s equal parts Norman Bates and Annie Wilkes. In darker moments she is petrifying, and during the film’s lighter opening she is friendly and unassuming. It’s easy to predict her intentions, but as we aren’t told much information about her until the film’s final third, she is capable of anything. That feeling of “anything could happen” never breaks, up until the credits roll. Unfortunately nothing much does, and the film ends on a cheesy foreshadow.

For a moment it seems like Greta has intentions beyond its plot. Flashes of commentary on trust-fund kids, the New York lifestyle, and familial bonds appear and dissipate, rarely carried through an entire act. Frances’s (Chloë Grace Moretz) unbearably couture roommate Erica (Maika Monroe) is one-note, but superbly written. She contributes to Frances’s torment rather than alleviate it, causing her psyche to sizzle; it’s not until Greta’s attention is turned toward Erica that the veil breaks, and she becomes just like everyone else in Frances’s life. A life surrounded by confused fathers, rude bosses, and idiotic friends. When everyone was against Frances, a caustic friendship seemed the perfect spark for rage. Erica returns for the final scene with a genuinely great cameo, but it’s visible a mile away, and lacking in the subtle disdain her character inhabits for the first half of the film.

When watching Greta, try to remember who it is about. It spends a lot of time dissecting Frances and Erica, as well as Frances’s father and his private detective friend, but at the center is the gloriously wicked Greta. Isabelle Huppert elevates the so-so thriller into something mildly interesting, though it aims to be much more. A failed experiment, but a supremely watchable one.