A 20-something-year-old waitress named Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a handbag left on the subway and decides to return it to its owner. Greta (Isabelle Huppert) is delighted to have the item back and soon strikes up a friendship with the young woman based on their mutual loneliness living in New York. When Frances learns that Greta has been leaving multiple handbags around the city in the hopes that someone will bring one back to her, she cuts ties with her. Greta proceeds to stalk Frances.
Both Isabelle Huppert – who first came to international attention in the disturbing ‘The Piano Teacher’ and came to prominence again in Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Elle’ – and Chloe Grace Moretz are captivating in ‘Greta’. Huppert is particularly so, especially as her character grows less predictable, having seemed so pleasant and frail before. Not a lot of actresses would be able to pull off the surreal behaviour required of her character, which at times includes a strange little dance. But such is the French actress’s remarkable talent.
Moretz’s roles have matured as she has. The young star made a name for herself in tween parts in ‘500 Days of Summer’ and ‘Kick-Ass’, and now beguiles as a character on the cusp of womanhood. You never doubt in her inherent niceness and naivety, but the actress has less and less to do as the movie progresses. Another notable performance hails from Maika Monroe, who plays Frances’ streetwise roommate. The best friend character can be over-the-top but Monroe – whom horror aficionados will recognise from ‘It Follows’ – is excellent at being real, balanced and likeable. Stephen Rea is in there too but without a real purpose. He’s just there because Stephen Rea is in all of Neil Jordan’s movies.
Speaking of, ‘Greta’ marks an interesting shift in Jordan’s career. His heyday was in the 90s with such movies as ‘The Crying Game’, ‘The Butcher Boy’ and ‘Michael Collins’. ‘Greta’ recalls Jordan’s last film, ‘Byzantium’, which was also a horror focussed on the relationship between two women (though in that case, it was between two vampire sisters). The issue with ‘Greta’ isn’t so much the budget limitations that plagued its predecessor as its lack of certainty as to what it’s trying to be. Is it a comedy, a horror, a tragedy? Its third act is nuts and you’ve no idea what could happen next. Greta is at her craziest and creepiest. Huppert, again, is great, but the narrative makes no sense.
Flawed as it is, ‘Greta’ is generally entertaining and all too aware of how camp it is. Its worst crime is the number of plot holes, so numerous it’s as if someone took a machine gun to the script. I mean, why didn’t Frances just block Greta? Why didn’t she let her friend know where Greta lives? And how could you leave your bike without a padlock, leaned against a wall, in the middle of New York City?
Look, plot holes can make for great entertainment but in this case there are just too many. It’s annoying.