Do you have any idea how hard it is to not outright recommend a movie in which Isabelle Huppert does a pantyhose-clad softshoe dance whilst plunging a syringe into an unsuspecting neck? Imagine if Meryl Streep played a demented murder-mom in some rando low-budget European movie. That’s basically what writer/director Neil Jordan got Huppert to do with Greta, a movie that yearns to be nonsensical trash stuffed into stodgy arthouse aesthetics. The first hour is a redundant roadblock to be numbingly endured before Huppert is unleashed for the bananarama she was clearly promised.
Doe-eyed, kindhearted Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a purse on a subway and returns it to its owner. Her roommate, Erica (Maika Monroe), chides her for this impulse, explaining Frances will “never make it” in New York City. Frances is revealed to be from Boston. Ah yes, Boston, that gentle, innocent pinnacle of empathy and humanity… Greta (Huppert) is delighted at Frances’s gesture, and the two immediately bond. Frances recently lost her mom, while Greta’s daughter is unreachable studying abroad. Or is she?! She’s not. The posters/trailers/basic-levels-of-human-intellect tell you she’s all kindsa dead.
Frances stumbles upon staggeringly obvious evidence of criminality, hid on par with a Trump official’s efforts. She tries to break off the budding mommy surrogacy with Greta, who straight-up ain’t havin’ it. Soon Greta is tormenting Frances at work, threatening her friends and, worst of all, making her frequently talk on the phone. Things obviously escalate, and after taking way too long to arrive at the bonkers shenanigans everyone went in wanting, Huppert gets to act fully loco crazy.
Much like the splendid true crime/comedy podcast, My Favorite Murder, campy murdery escapism isn’t about making light of serious subjects and real victims. These outlets actually help strip the power and imposing aura from real-life monsters while strengthening the audience’s ability to endure the horror of actual events. At least, the good ones do. Greta almost does. Watching a refined, nuanced, talented thespian play a hunka-hunka-burnin’ whacko is always a true joy. If only Jordan hadn’t been so obsessed with slowly ratcheting events and allotted more screen space for Huppert to lose her merde.
For her part, Moretz remains Schrodinger’s performer; she is somehow simultaneously both unquestionably gifted and embarrassingly cheesy. In the space of a single scene, she can be breathlessly believable and laughably fake, fake, fake. The same cannot be said of Monroe, who delivers every line like it’s a failed audition for a local mattress emporium commercial. Picking on young actors feels mean, so here’s sincerely hoping she mocks this review one day whilst hoisting an Oscar. If Jared Leto can do it…
Were the entirety of Greta infused with the maniacal mischievousness of its final third, it’d be the best kind of schlocky stalker silliness, elevated by a legendary actress cutting loose. Instead, wait until you can stream it, start it about an hour in and then maybe call your mom after.
Grade = C-