Directed by: Neil Jordan
Premise: A young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) befriends a widow (Isabelle Huppert). The older woman becomes an increasingly unhinged stalker.
What Works: Greta is an entertaining stalker story. The movie succeeds largely due to its two lead performances. Chloë Grace Moretz plays a naïve young woman new to the big city of New York and a random good turn leads to a nightmare scenario. Moretz plays the character credibly. Her character is naïve but in a way that is well intended rather than stupid. She’s also given a bit of depth. Moretz’s character recently lost her mother and her attachment to this older woman fills the emotional void in her life. As things get more intense, Moretz’s character generally makes intelligent decisions as she tries to shake this stalker out of her life. Isabelle Huppert is terrific in the title role. Huppert is adept at subtlety and she makes otherwise innocent gestures into ominous threats. Greta also succeeds due to its plotting. The film begins as a fairly standard stalker scenario but it goes off in some unexpected directions. There are a few zany twists and the filmmakers keep the audience in suspense. The character details and the turns in the plotting elevate familiar material and give Greta a personal touch that makes this film fresh and exciting.
What Doesn’t: The story moves along at a clip but Greta slips into Fatal Attraction territory very quickly. Greta is initially introduced as a lonely older woman. Like a lot of similar characters she begins from a sympathetic position but the filmmakers don’t allow her the time to devolve into a menace. Rather than the slow burn we usually enjoy from a story like this, Greta goes full blown psycho right away. As a result, the film fails to fully exploit the ambiguity of its premise. The conclusion of Greta is underwhelming. The finale doesn’t provide a big payoff and Moretz’s character doesn’t come into direct conflict with her tormenter. The movie is primed for a blowout but the conclusion is a whimper.
Bottom Line: Greta is a thoroughly entertaining thriller. The filmmaking is tight and perspicuous while allowing for character detail and creative plotting. Despite a few missed opportunities, Greta is a solidly made piece of work that accomplishes exactly what it is trying to do.
Episode: #740 (March 10, 2019)