Movie Review: Greta

Greta is a tense thriller starring Isabelle Huppert and Chloë Grace Moretz. It felt good to see a thriller where both the protagonist and the antagonist were female. Not since Single White Female (1992) do I remember such a line-up, and for that reason, Greta reminds me of the earlier movie. It also enjoys the same plot element involving the antagonist becoming obsessed with the protagonist. This is a tale of stalking, a theme for our time, but it’s refreshing to see something other than sexual desire motivating the stalker.

Greta is a duel involving actors. Isabelle Huppert has been making movies since I was a kid, mostly in her native France, but Chloë Grace Moretz is a relative newcomer. Though she has been making movies since 2005, it was starring as Hit-Girl in 2010’s Kick Ass that brought her to the public attention. She had since starred in the sequel (2013), in Carrie (2013), and in the remake of Suspiria (2018). Her role in Suspiria, though small, convinced me she’s an actor of great skill. It seemed a great match-up–the veteran heavyweight versus the talented upstart. I would like to say we have a new champion, but I have to award my best actor award to Huppert. Her portrayal of Greta Hideg is the best reason to see the movie. And Moretz’s performance of Frances is the second best reason. Keeping the boxing analogy going a tad too far, neither contender knocked out the other. This was a match decided by the judges.

Neil Jordan, who gave us The Crying Game (1992) and Interview with the Vampire (1994), directed Greta. Along with Ray Wright, he wrote the screenplay. As Greta is a duel of actors, it is also a duel of characters. There is no subtlety in the conflict between Greta and Frances. The moviemakers did it right. In the first act, they introduced the characters and created sympathy for them. In the second act, they introduced danger and built tension. In the third act, the conflict moved towards the final confrontation. If this sounds formulaic, it is, but it’s a formula that works. At least, Jordan made it work.

Isabelle Huppert as Greta and Chloë Grace Moretz as Frances

Though I enjoyed it, it does have some problems that siphoned that enjoyment. Twists and turns make thrillers thrilling, but there were few surprises in Greta. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the plot points. Normally, I would blame the marketing department for giving away too much, but having seen the movie, I realized it was predictable anyway. I’m uncertain what I think about the ending. Since I don’t want to spoil it for you, I won’t say more. But if you read this blog regularly and see the movie, you’ll know my thoughts well enough to deduced why the ending dissatisfied me. Normally, a unsatisfying ending in a thriller would ruin the movie for me, but the performances by Huppert and Moretz more than compensated for it.

Maika Monroe plays Erica Penn, Frances’ best friend and roommate. We’ve seen her before in It Follows (2014), Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), and Bokeh (2017). It’s not my habit to award best supporting actor accolades, but if I did, Monroe would take the prize with ease. House of Cards actor Colm Feore stars as Frances’ father. Stephen Rea, Neil Jordan’s frequent collaborator, plays Brian Cody, a private investigator.

Greta had me at the edge of my seat, and that’s what I want with thrillers. Strong performances by both the leading stars and the supporting casts makes this a good choice for your weekend movie.

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