Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace-Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore
Director: Neil Jordan
When it comes to low-budget thrillers, I’m not exactly sure why March seems to be the month of choice to release these types of movies. They aren’t competing with any major players yet and can make a small impact before eventually fading away. With Greta, we get exactly that with a movie that has its moments of brilliance but is still weighed down by odd pacing and infuriating character decisions. This is the type of movie that has a foundation of brilliant acting and an intriguing story, but just needed a few adjustments if it wanted to be an elite movie.
The film follows Frances McCullen (Grace-Moretz), a young waitress in New York City who finds a purse on the subway one day. When she returns it to Greta (Huppert), the purse’s owner, the two start to develop a friendship. When Frances realizes that Greta has ulterior motives in their friendship, she tries to distance herself from Greta, but Greta’s obsessive behavior results in Frances having to use everything possible for her to get out of their relationship. The real star of this movie is Huppert as she steals every scene she is. There are multiple scenes where Greta absolutely loses her mind and acts out irrationally and you pause and think to yourself, “Huppert might actually be crazy if she can emulate these feelings so perfectly.” Huppert completely embraced this role and truly elevated the movie to something better than anticipated. Her performance helps establish many of the more thrilling and suspenseful moments of the movie and showcases just how to perform in a role like this one. Grace-Moretz is solid as the protagonist, but is completely overshadowed by Huppert and doesn’t really start to shine until the end of the film. While the performances are the highlights of the movie, there are still multiple elements that hold the film back from its true potential. For one thing, the pacing is very strange and varies depending on where you are in the film. In the beginning, the relationship that is developed between Frances and Greta feels very rushed, as they only have a few on-screen moments together before their falling out. After that happens, the movie tends to drag with every portion of Greta’s actions being strung out and it never feels like the movie is going anywhere. While I understand the later scenes dragging a bit to build suspense, the fact that their relationship is never really established kind of makes the film feel pointless. Maybe this lack of relationship was supposed to highlight just how crazy Greta really is, but that feels like it could be a stretch. Outside of this, there are multiple points during the film where Frances could have ended the movie but her stupid decision-making prolonged the movie for the sake of making it longer. I understand leads in thrillers making rash decisions because of the stress of their situation, but someone of Frances’s age should’ve been able to solve her problems quite easily. This isn’t a major problem, but it can be frustrating knowing that her issues can be solved in a moment’s notice if she took a second to just think.
Overall, this isn’t the time of year where we see any heavy hitters come out, so getting a solid yet flawed thriller with an enticing performance is really all we can ask for at this point. I don’t know how I would feel about this movie if Huppert wasn’t in it, but she brings a level of energy to this film that very few actresses could even imagine. Greta isn’t perfect, but it does enough things right to entertain the audience and keep them in a state of suspense.
Overall Score: 6/10