FOCUS FEATURES (2019)
Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea
This isn’t the story of Greta Gerwig’s directorial rise.
Back in the 90’s, campy thrillers were the in-thing – Basic Instinct, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, for example – and whilst they were entertaining or, in some cases, bloody good, they seemed to have died off somewhat in recent years. The Crying Game director Neil Jordan is here to amend this with Greta – a movie about a strange, lonely lady who becomes obsessed with a mourning young waitress. That’s the simple take but you can get the picture or the direction of where the movie will go.
Greta is a throwback thriller in every sense of the word and I have to say, I was pleased with the fact it was. Everything is big and telegraphed and, at times, OTT but Jordan isn’t playing the subtle game here. Huppert’s Greta is a whirlwind of thinly-disguised menace and Hupert’s all-in performance was an utter joy to behold – dancing, screaming and a stare to knock an elephant down, she is clearly having a marvellous time in the role. Moretz’s continues her rise through lower-budget affairs and she again shows her confidence and ability to hold her own against a force like Huppert. It’s fair to say that the overall content here may be beneath these actresses but they approach their performances with gusto and assurance. The beats that lead to Chloë Grace Moretz’s Frances encountering Isabelle Huppert’s Greta are convenient but given Frances’ naivety when it comes to big city behaviour, not entirely unbelievable and many of the later moments stretch credibility entirely, but the performances sell the absurdity.
Greta gets better as it goes along, the first act – the setup – is fine though not entirely engrossing but when Greta begins to turn the screw, placing Frances in situation after situation, things start to really heat up, all leading to a bonkers finale. Before that though is a superbly played twist that utterly threw me and managed to add to the growing tension that Jordan creates so adeptly. Some of the dialogue, on the other hand, isn’t particularly inspired and the supporting talents of Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea and Zawe Ashton and frustratingly underutilised in minor expositionary roles.
Greta won’t work for everyone, it’s plainly a bit ridiculous but that’s the strength of the movie for me. Despite it going overboard at times, it still remained utterly engaging, mainly due to the two leads and the idea that pretty much anything could happen here. Greta won’t change your life, but you may have a bit of fun watching the sheer absurdity of it all – and Huppert is wonderfully bonkers too.
May 11th 2019