Director: Neil Jordan
Talent: Chloë Grace Moretz, Isabelle Huppert, Stephen Rea
Released: 19 April
On paper Greta seems like a pretty classy production. It’s directed by Neil Jordan, shot by two time Oscar nominee Seamus McGarvey and starring arthouse darling Isabelle Hupert. So how, with their powers combined, have they made a generic stalker flick straight out of the nineties?
Greta follows Frances (Moretz), a sweet young woman who’s recently moved to New York after the death of her mother. Upon finding a handbag on the subway, she dutifully returns it to its owner Greta (Huppert). It isn’t long before the two begin an odd friendship, but is Greta as benign as she seems?
What do you think? Greta wastes no time revealing how batshit insane its titular character is, which some might consider refreshing. But once the film tips its hand, it has little to offer but predictable stalker histrionics. It’s frustrating because the film’s early scenes illustrate an interesting dynamic between the two women; in Greta, Frances sees a surrogate mother. Likewise Greta eyes her young friend as a substitute for her errant daughter.
You can see how these scenes might have attracted Jordan, a filmmaker known with a keen interest in unhealthy relationships. Sadly, the subtext becomes very literal as Greta becomes obsessed with capturing Frances and keeping her as her own. Any hint of nuance is jettisoned for a maternal riff on Fatal Attraction.
But Greta’s mortal sin is its lack of camp value. Huppert flutters around like a homicidal ballerina or careens through a fancy restaurant like a wounded animal, but she can only do so much. The sole moment of inspiration comes from a dream-within-a-dream sequence, a double fake-out so excessive that it borders on parody. By the time, Jordan is throwing Moretz into a free falling elevator, its cracked walls threatening to crush his starlet, you sense that he’s finally having fun. If only the rest of the film exhibited such demented glee.
Words: Jack O’Higgins