It felt like I’d been waiting an eternity for Greta, and the suspense was killing me. I’d seen plenty of feedback from those who attended TIFF, and the trailer had played before so many films I’d seen in the cinema. The concept had intrigued me from day one, as I find myself very drawn to thrillers such as this one. Being stalked is a very real, very genuine fear, and it’s that sense of realism that makes it so terrifying.
The film follows widowed, lonely Greta (Isabelle Huppert) as she befriends Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) when she returns her handbag that was left on the New York Subway. The two form a bond rather quickly, but things take a sinister turn when Frances realises Greta is harbouring a dark secret. As it happens, this handbag was planted by Greta, who lay in wait hoping someone would bring it back to her. Unfortunately for Frances, she did.
Despite the fact the trailer for Greta spoils some key moments, it was still an incredibly gripping watch. The lead characters are very well acted, and I have significant praise for Isabelle Huppert, whose performance absolutely blew me away. The way she shifts from a kind, friendly old lady into a cold, deceptive psychopath is incredible to witness. As the titular character and film’s antagonist, she absolutely steals the show and the audience starts to fear her just as much as Frances. No one knows what she’s going to do next.
Chloe Grace Moretz’ character Frances is bubbly and kind, which ultimately leads to her downfall in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. She is originally from Boston, and moved in with her friend following the death of her mother. Frances is haunted by this incident, which Moretz portrays convincingly throughout the film. She is a very likeable character, which makes her encounter with Greta so much scarier. I was rooting for her throughout, not wanting any harm to come to such a kind-hearted person.
Unfortunately for Frances, her kindness makes her very naïve, which is why she is initially so trusting of Greta. Her flat mate Erica (Maika Monroe) is much more street smart, even if she is a little annoying, and Frances makes the mistake of not listening to her warnings. When Frances finds a bag she thinks of returning it, when Erica finds one, she calls the bomb squad. The two have very different attitudes when it comes to life in the Big Apple.
Despite having some slow moments, it’s the performances given by these three leading ladies that made the film so enjoyable for me. They have very different backgrounds and attitudes, constantly clashing with each other and creating some great tension throughout. Greta will stop at nothing to win the affections of Frances, causing her to do some truly disturbing and almost unspeakable things.
The film knows how to give you that sense of dread, even when you know Greta is elsewhere, you can’t help but anticipate her round every corner Frances turns. This is a testament to the film’s camerawork, which purposely hides certain areas from the viewer, keeping you on edge throughout. The use of shadows and darkness helps with this too. Once Greta’s intentions are revealed, you don’t feel safe. However exaggerated and unrealistic they may be, they definitely make for an entertaining thriller.
It’s a solid thriller with a runtime of 1 hr 38 minutes, enough to provide sufficient exposition and amp up the tension when it needs to. Whilst it isn’t the strongest thriller I’ve seen, it is entertaining throughout and doesn’t need to rely on excessive violence in order to make its point. The film is certainly elevated by the character of Greta, who has quickly gone up in my list of favourite female villains. The film’s plot is completely and utterly crazy, but an enjoyable day out at the cinema nonetheless. This is the first Neil Jordan film I’ve seen, and I must say, I’m impressed.