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Isabelle Huppert – Greta Hideg
Chloë Grace Moretz – Frances McCullen
Maika Monroe – Erica
Colm Feore – Chris
Stephen Rea – Brian
What a strange little film this is. And it’s played out by a strange little woman too (cue the quirkiness as Greta prances her way through each scene as gentle a butterfly with a sickly-sweet smile). She’s everything you could want in a caring neighbour. But she’s also dangerous. Deadly. And this kind old lady has a few nasty tricks up her sleeve.
Greta has to be one of the best films of 2019 I have seen. This is due to its simplistic and stupidly scary plot:
an older woman leaves her handbag on the train (all personal details enclosed) so that someone can pick it up and return it to her – subsequently falling into the trap she has set for them. It’s sinister stuff but very easy to follow as Frances (Moretz) takes the viewer on an emotional journey. Her character is disgrutled, lonely and when she meets Greta for the first time a friendship blossoms between the pair. There’s an obvious age difference but scenes that play out where the women enjoy each other’s company are quite sweet. Walks in the park and cooking / eating dinner together, even Frances shopping with Greta to help her choose a dog create a homely atmosphere where two people embrace their friendship wholeheartedly.
There is an undercurrent of sadness flowing in the background though, highlighted at times when the young woman confides in the older woman about her personal life. Screened in the right places and edited slightly, you’d think this was a promotional video for ‘adopt-a-granny’ type thing. Scenes between these two are not bursting with action, but the script works magic in keeping it light and engaging. And Moretz does a splendid job. And as one gradually opens up about her life, the other is lying about hers. Prepare for the family vibe to take a massive nosedive as Greta’s intentions are discovered and France’s life spirals out of control.
This is where things become interesting..
Huppert is fantastic throughout this movie. She provides a non-stop uneasy energy as Greta, her sad eyes conveying deep meaning whether she’s speaking or silent. And unlike many actors out there who have little impact she holds the screen perfectly with petite but stiff body language and distant facial expressions. Faultless. The scene where she stands outside France’s workplace for an obsessive amount of time is utterly bizarre, but Huppert plays it with such minimal effort that she’s bloody terrifying. And her behaviour only gets worse with this movie fast becoming a thriller. In fact, Greta reminds me slightly of 1987’s Fatal Attraction (without the sex) in which Glenn Close plays her famous ‘bunny boiler’ (yes – this is where the phrase originated) who becomes more unhinged the more she stalks Michael Douglas’s character. This lady’s actions are similar to that with her turning up at her prey’s work, following her through town, constantly telephoning her and even turning up on France’s doorstep because she ‘just wants to talk’ (this part gets nasty).
It all makes a gripping watch with the question hanging over the situation of how exactly Frances is going to finish it all – if she can. Oh, and savour the restaurant scene when Greta pays her young friend a visit posing as a customer (as shown in trailer). Things get so crazy that it becomes almost hilarious and it’s beautifully played by the pair.
One of Huppert’s unnerving characteristics when playing Greta is how she finishes a sentence with a flat, almost deadpan smile. This may just be the actual actor’s way of speaking but for the movie it’s perfect, ending her speech by trailing off into a distant half-smile which could be expressing any emotion. Very talented mouth.
Of course, most great movies have their shit points too. Greta’s main one has to be the unbelievable way in which this old woman singlehandedly manages to keep a young woman prisoner in her house for a number of weeks. She may be armed with stocks of medication, but Christ – Frances being completely unable to escape her restraints means this old bird must either have been an army officer in the past, or is a frequent customer of musclefood.com. Alongside this is the wooden door of her room that seems to be made of bulletproof steel (not even smashing a chair against it makes a dent), and unbreakable windows around the house. This whole capture scenario seems far-fetched and a little old-fashioned too, echoing soap opera plots of the 1990’s (I.E. someone keeping another person in a basement or something).
I saw this twice at the cinema, and was just as entertained the second time. Greta is one hell of a twisted ride, and worth a watch if you’re a viewer wanting a thriller with a feminine kick. Enjoy. But for fuck sake if you’re on public transport and spot a lost item hanging around – don’t be returning it to its owner.
You never know who you could end up having coffee with.