Greta is the kind of film that only comes around once in a while. It’s usually in the first quarter of the year — in the no man’s land between the last of the prestige pictures and the first hints of the summer blockbusters to come. It’s a bleak time to go to the movies, it’s peak B-film season. Normally, it is populated by also rans and odd little indie numbers that don’t quite work. Date movies and family movies abound. But every so often, a wacky thriller seeps in. Generally, there’s big name talent, a weak script and lots of scenery chewing.
Greta checks every single one of those boxes. Like Obsessed and The Boy Next Door and so many others before it, Greta leans on the pretty problematic assertion that emotional duress causes some women to just crack. Then they sleep with students or stalk people or do whatever it is the plot asks of them and we’re drug along for the ride. In this case, Greta, played with full-tilt dedication by the legendary Isabelle Huppert is a lonely middle-aged woman who lures a naive young woman (Chloe Grace Moretz) into her orbit and proceeds to make her life a living hell.
Of the two leading ladies, Moretz is by far the more famous among average American cinemagoers, but it’s Huppert who is here to chew the scenery and she does so in such a way that makes you believe she might have legitimized the thriller elements of this movie, if only she wasn’t having so much fun overdoing it. Conversely, Moretz plays it easy, leaving Huppert to take up all the space in the room and reacting more like someone watching the movie than a realistic character. It’s a far cry from her best work, but she is an effective conduit for our guffawing response to all the theater being tossed at us.
The international poster for Greta perfectly, brilliantly sets the tone for the cracked drama it contains.
This journey into one woman’s warped reality isn’t a fine piece of filmmaking — it’s a clumsy one, actually — but it is a pretty fine time if only you have a healthy appreciation of good performers in bad material.
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Ray Wright and Neil Jordan(screenplay), Ray Wright (story)
Runtime: 1h 39min
Release Date: March 1, 2019