A review of Greta by Ahmed Zayani
Who wouldn’t love a good thriller? These are the films that are not as intense as a full out horror feature nor are they adrenaline pumping as an all out action romp. However, few film genres can play with your nerves and keep you hanging on the edge of your seat like a really good thriller. Personally, I’ve always been keen on that type of film and would get excited whenever a new release would hit the big screen. One of my favourite sub genres is the obsessed stalker feature where our protagonist would find himself/herself at the heels of a nefarious individual from their past. Yes, these films tend to be a tad derivative of one another and can run the risk of being cheesy but once in a while you get that one endearing gem that’ll stick with you for the longest time.
Directed by Neil Jordan, Greta stars Chloe Grace-Moretz and Isabelle Huppert in the titular role and tells the story of an affable recent college graduate (played by Grace-Moretz) who befriends the older Greta (played by Huppert) after returning a purse that she seemingly forgot on a subway one day. What starts off as a wonderful relationship built on mutual admiration quickly spirals into something more sinister with Greta revealing that there is something far more nefarious behind her saccharine demeanour. For my money, the strongest aspect of Greta was the performances. With the notable exception being Maika Monroe who had the acting grace of a dried up blowfish all the key players gave wonderfully engaging performances. Grace-Moretz was wonderful as the wide-eyed Frances who has yet to succumb to the jaded restlessness that comes with a New York transplant. Isabelle Huppert was also awesome as the mysterious titular character (side note: if you haven’t seen her in Paul Veerhoven’s Elle you need to remedy this ASAP) and the chemistry that she shared with Grace-Moretz is without a doubt the highlight of the film and is the glue that holds the whole narrative together. Simply put, this film would have not worked in the hands of lesser actresses. In the last, director Neil Jordan has given us such remarkable outings as The Crying Game, Byzantium, and the End of the Affair and I am glad to say that he brings the same sensibility and style to Greta as his direction was top notch and elevated this film beyond its limitations.
Considering how awesome the performances were it is such a shame that they are hindered by being in a film with a script that simply does not live up to its full potential. Now I am all for suspension of disbelief in films to a certain extent, but the script for Greta asks me to go beyond that and abandon any common sense or semblance of logic. Certain actions and decisions that a number of characters make throughout the duration of this film are nonsensical and are in no way, shape, or form the norm in which a normal functioning person would ever conduct himself. You know those character cliches that were prevalent in the 80s and 90s that parody films constantly poke fun of? Greta seemingly relishes them in a straight laced non ironic manner. Had the film played things tongue-to-cheek it could’ve worked, but this film chose to maintain a serious tone which simply did not work. The film’s script also suffered from being a bit too familiar and predictable. As I mentioned before, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing but the marketing material sort of hinted that this film could potentially take a different path in their narrative resolution so it was kind of a bummer to see the end result playing it safe and close to the chest.
All things considered though, I did not hate Greta and was actually entertained by it. I do find myself, however, liking it instead of loving it. This is a film that had phenomenal performances but was hindered by a convoluted script that led to the film from reaching its full potential.
For more cinematic intel, follow Ahmed on @theahmedzayani
The Five: Favourite Obsessive Stalker Films
- The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
- Single White Female
- Cape Fear