Best known for 1992’s gender bending The Crying Game, director Neil Jordan has been a Hollywood mainstay for decades. Along with the Oscar winning film, Jordan has many credits to his name. Greta explores many of Jordan’s usual themes but in a slightly different package. The thriller ends up being an inconsistent yet enjoyable watch.
Greta tells the story of Frances McCullen (Chloe Grace Moretz). Frankie is a young woman who lives in New York City. After Frankie finds a handbag on the subway, an act of kindness leads to her life unraveling.
A good thriller is dependent on its characters. Greta is no different and Isabel Huppert plays the titular character perfectly. When audiences first meet Greta, she is kind and affable. Frankie immediately trusts her and it is not hard to see why. Still, with every movement and each comment there always seems to be hiding something a little more sinister.
Huppert is steady the entire film. She is able to illicit a myriad of different emotions from the audience. There are times she is to be pitied while at other times she is frightening. Huppert makes the most cliched moments in Greta work. She also brings believeability to a character even in the movie’s silliest moments. Huppert is easily one of Greta’s brightest highlights.
Surprisingly, the usually dependably Moretz is very inconsistent. She plays the victim very well and has a great scene near the end that demonstrates the emotional toll taken on her. The rest of the movie she is very hit and miss. At times, the actress comes off as distracted and wooden while in other scenes she will be doing fine. It is an odd performance that can take the viewer out of the film.
Maika Monroe plays Frankie’s roommate, Erica and is also all over the place. Erica is the generic materialistic friend who is self absorbed and lives for today. There is nothing wrong with having this type of character since it further shows how good of a person Frankie is, but Monroe seems to be phoning the performance in until near the end of the movie. She is basically playing a parody.
Another odd character is is Frankie’s father Chris. There is nothing wrong with the performance of Colm Feore, but the part seems unnecessary. There are some themes that are touched on, but nothing is every developed. He is simply there to further the plot.
The movie’s pacing is all over the place. Everything seems to happen too quickly. It is hard to get a grasp of what the characters motivations are. The audience sort of figures that Frankie is a nice person and Erica is portrayed as the opposite. But before you have time to wrap your head around Greta’s past, you are in a tense film with a clear villain. Greta’s reveal happens almost too early.
Yet, it all works somehow. It is not so much a twist told too soon but a tonal change. Greta’s past is purposely left convoluted and vague. The film moves at such a brisk pace in order to keep its audience guessing. (There is no excuse for the poor character development of Frankie and Erica.)
Once, more of Greta’s nature is revealed, Greta constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. The music is perfect and the camerawork borders on brilliant. The combination of the two will have viewers on high alert while still managing to shock them. The theater audience was audibly cringing (in a good way) during many scenes.
Just when it looks like Greta has won its audience over, it goes into its wacky third scene. Characters are introduced, blood is all over the place, and the the climax is predictable and anticlimactic. This summarized the entire movie. Greta is great when its hitting on all cylinders, but it loses its focus far too often. It is easily the best inconsistent movie of this short year.