REVIEW: Greta (2019)

US Theatrical Release Poster – Focus Features

The following is a review of Greta — Directed by Neil Jordan.

It’s been a while since I last felt like walking out of a movie in the middle of it. It still hasn’t ever happened, because every time I feel this way, I’m watching the film with someone I know. Though I did watch the film in its entirety, Neil Jordan’s Greta really pushed me to my limits. Though it starred multiple actors who I enjoy, I had nowhere near as much fun watching the end product as much as it seems Isabelle Huppert enjoyed chewing the scenery in this terribly dull thriller. I’m sure some might say Greta is so bad it’s good, but, to me, it was so bad that even its most outrageously funny lines became infuriating in the long run.

Neil Jordan’s Greta, which has appropriately been titled ‘Stalker‘ in Scandinavia, follows Frances McCullen (played by Chloë Grace Moretz), a young Bostonian waitress living in New York City, as she finds a lost handbag in the subway. Eager to return it to its rightful owner, Frances tracks down the owner’s back-alley home, even though Frances’ roommate (played by Maika Monroe) would rather use the money in the handbag for a colon cleansing.

The handbag belongs to Greta Hideg (played by Isabelle Huppert), a lonely French woman who lives alone. Greta invites Frances in for a cup of coffee, and they hit it off. They establish a real connection. Frances finds a canine companion for Greta, but Greta hasn’t been honest about her intentions. One evening, while Frances is over for dinner at Greta’s place, Frances discovers a cupboard with multiple identical handbags inside of it. It becomes clear that Frances isn’t the first woman that Greta has lured into her home. When Frances decides to stop meeting with Greta, the French woman starts stalking her. Soon it is revealed that there is more to Greta than initially revealed.

I think there is a good chance that this film will be a small cult favorite. It’s a trashy B-film that I’m sure some audiences will have a lot of fun with. This B-movie thriller is more laughable than riveting, but I never had fun with it. Be that as it may, your mileage may ultimately vary. From my perspective, this is a trainwreck that had me bored almost to tears. There is a moment in the film when Star Trek is referenced, at which point I was basically laughing in hysterics and disbelief. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.

Greta failed to capture me precisely because of its poor execution and script. Isabelle Huppert’s exaggerated performance has fun moments. I enjoyed watching a close-up of Huppert’s shoeless feet as she basically tippy-toed her way across the room to attack someone. Also, I have to say that there was one inspired dream sequence that I kind of enjoyed. But by that point in the film, it had worn out its welcome for me.

I like Chloë Grace Moretz a lot, so it pains me to have to say that she is completed wasted in Greta. She may, in fact, be playing the protagonist, but her character is so infuriatingly thinly drawn and at odds with herself that Moretz is hung out to dry. At one point, she says that ‘where she comes from’ you have no problem returning items to strangers, yet she’s from Boston and her father looks fairly wealthy. Stranger danger shouldn’t be a novel concept to Frances. Furthermore, Maika Monroe’s Erica is far more interesting but she’s playing a tired stereotype.

The dialogue is ridiculous. At one point, Moretz remarks that she’s like ‘chewing gum’ because she ‘tends to stick around,’ which becomes a recurring line. The dramatic character moments are forced and exaggerated. The film relies on moments that make absolutely no sense — like, how Greta forgets what someone she’s been stalking looks like simply because she changed her hair color and accent slightly. The original score is excessive and melodramatic. The jump-scare sound effects are amplified to a frustrating extent. The film will be so incredibly predictable for anyone who has ever seen a film in the genre before. Most frustrating to me, though, might be the fact that I think it has been cut within an inch of its life. The film rushes from scene to scene with no interest in or clue as to how to set-up the characters. The film is paced carelessly and no scenes have room to breathe.

There absolutely is an audience for this type of film. But, to me, this particular thriller blend did not work at all. Neil Jordan’s Greta is a poorly written and ludicrous thriller, as well as one of the worst movie-going experiences of the decade for me. I wish I had as much fun watching the film as Huppert clearly had running around in tights with a needle in her hand.

3.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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