A young woman named Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a handbag on the New York subway and promptly returns it to Greta Hiedg (Isabelle Huppert), an eccentric French piano teacher who loves tea and classical music. Having recently lost her mother, young Frances strikes up a seemingly harmless friendship with the lonely and kindly widow who enjoys her company. But when Greta’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and obsessive, Frances does whatever it takes to end the toxic relationship before things spiral out of control.
Although scrolling through Netflix when you’re bored and trying to find a movie to watch can be a painful task that often ends up in you not finding a movie you’re in the mood for at all, there is the odd occasion where you find something that genuinely interests you. For me today, the film that caught my eye was Neil Jordan’s Greta, a movie I fully intended to go see in the theatre when it was released back in 2019, but I got so caught up with a plethora of other movies that I just never got around to seeing it.
I’ve heard some fairly mixed things about it, but I never go into any film with a predisposition. I always keep my mind open no matter what film it is, who it’s directed by, who it stars, etc. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed Greta – a movie that, sure, feels extremely familiar and uses the same formula of the majority of thriller films, but it still manages to be eerie, thrilling, and intense that contains an excellently chilling final scene that I won’t soon forget.
This is a film that is definitely going to frustrate a lot of people and I can understand why if you don’t end up liking it. At times, it feels like the film isn’t too sure of what it wants to be. Does this want to be a crime movie? A drama-thriller? Or just a straight-up horror movie? But I think this uneasy feeling of not knowing what you’re in for actually kind of boosts the overall viewing experience.
Greta Hideg is presented as a woman who is extremely lonely and lives all by herself. She spends her free time (which is practically all hours of the day) playing piano, reading, and cooking. She has absolutely nobody to talk to and so, when she meets Frances, she grows incredibly attached to her much too fast.
Understandably, this kind of creeps Frances out. Even though they have known each other for maybe a few days, Greta starts to tell Frances that she doesn’t think of them as just friends, but rather a family. A mother and daughter.
And of course, since this is a thriller, you can expect there to be an abundance of shocking twists and revelations, and yes, there is. But what made me fall in love with Greta is how it makes you question the main characters.
Is Greta just a sweet old lady that is painfully lonely that simply needs a friend to talk to and keep her company? Is she just laying it on a bit too thick with Frances? Or is she actually somebody dangerous that people should be terrified of? The movie makes you ponder this over in your head for a long time. And I personally enjoyed the suspense and mystery of not knowing for a while.
Chloë Grace Moretz, who is in my opinion extremely underrated, delivers one of the best performances of her career here as Frances. She sells every single scene and delivers a brilliantly emotional and raw performance. The same thing can be said about Greta herself, Isabelle Huppert. She definitely had the trickiest task out of any actor in this project, having to portray a character that is so mysterious and uneasy to watch.
As I said, this movie is not perfect and it definitely borrows from the tried-and-true formula of essentially every thriller you can think of. But even though it can be strikingly familiar, it still manages to pull off a number of plot twists that never feel forced or generic. Greta is creepy, unsettling, and full of terrific suspense.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: R for some violence and disturbing images
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Distributed by: Focus Features
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Running Time: 98 minutes