Greta review – Playfully Intense, but Terribly Shallow

Neil Jordan’s latest film is an enjoyable thriller filled with extravagance, tension and prosperity. Isabelle Huppert brings gravitas to a film that lacks anything truly deep or thoughtful. There is a clear vision, in which the film plays into that playful to the fullest and is actually very enjoyable but most importantly watchable.

After seeing the film about a week ago and looking back at my initial reaction, I came out very entertained and actually quite tense-filled to which now I keep that level of excitement but I feel as if the film is actually a little shallow.

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Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young woman living in New York with her friend Erica (Maika Monroe). Frances is depressed because of her just passed mother. On the subway she spots a bag and out of kindness and curiosity she takes it back to the owner, Greta (Isabelle Huppert). Greta, is an enigmatically charming woman who is seemingly in need of a ‘replacement’ for her absent daughter. Frances is asked in for tea and quickly becomes close to Greta, who is her mother figure in the absence of her real mother. But it isn’t too long a time before things become strange and swirl out of control as Greta winds down a road of obsession and madness.

It’s completely unhinged and is a great ride. Greta as a film veers off from most genre bounds as it is self-knowingly mad. The music cues in the film signal everything you need to know about what’s to come, it works on one hand but on the other it perhaps feels a little cheap and manipulative of a specific trope. When Jordan builds tension, the tension truly comes. The sadistic nature of Huppert’s Greta plays into the rise of tension, as various characters (or even Frances) take notably silly steps which creates a sense of fear – it’s a film that is ripely full of dramatic irony.

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The anchor in the film is most certainly the two lead performances, with Huppert having the time of her life as the playfully sadistic malignity. Greta plays piano, commits murder, dances and cooks all in a day. Whereas, Grace Moretz is the soul of the film and it’s the contrast of the two juxtaposing figures clashing that makes the film work. Monroe has the best moment that nears towards the end, and although her role is small she acts as a compass for Frances.

There is evident cues taken and payed homage to in the ‘stalker’ aspect of the film, Fatal Attraction comes to mind when viewing certain elements. The shallowness is mostly outshone by Jordan’s effective exercise in genre, but it falls short of say Soderbergh’s Unsane which has the genre similarities but succeeds on all fronts, unlike Greta.

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Although I despise the term ‘B-Movie’ (traditionally, the bottom half of a double-billed feature), it seems Greta slots right in to the stereotypical classification of a perhaps lesser film that would support something ‘greater’. It is a successful genre exercise, but falls short as a whole film.

3/5 Stars

Ben Rolph

GRETA IS OUT NOW IN CINEMAS IN THE UK & US

FILM TWEETS & REACTIONS @THEDCTVSHOW ON TWITTER

 

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