Don't Mess With Isabelle Huppert

Friends. Whether you have a lot or just a few, they all feel like family. You can go to them in good times, bad times and just for fun night out or for a profound conversation.

To some, you feel closer than to others. But when is close too close? Well, director Neil Jordan (“Byzantium”; “The Borgias (TV)”) gives you a decent example with his “Greta”.

What starts a slow (maybe too slow) film gradually becomes a dark, nerve-wracking but sadly also a little bit tad predictable film lead by the astonishing Isabelle Huppert (“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them”; “Elle”).

Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz) lives a wonderful and quiet life in New York. Working as a waitress in a fancy restaurant and living together with her best friend Erica Penn (Maika Monroe) in an exquisite apartment.

Little did she know that her usual subway ride would change her life completely. After finding a lost purse, she decides to bring it back to the owner without taking any money or other valuables. Apparently, it belongs to a widow called Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert) living in a small cottage.

When the two women are united, they become close friends. Having dinner together, going dog shopping or just taking a stroll. Because Frances has lost her mother and Greta’s daughter has been away to Paris, they start to bond on the mother-daughter relationship.

While Erica warns her friend that it’s all going too fast, to Frances everything seems fine. Until one night she discovers that Greta has more than one purse. All identical to the one she found but with names from other women on.

Becoming more suspicious and trying to distance herself from Greta, Greta is pushing their friendship to its boundaries. Boundaries that once they’re crossed, the friendship takes a darker and sinister turn. The line between their close friendship and stalking becomes a very thin one. What will happen when it completely dissolves?

As mentioned before, this film might be a little predictable, especially if you have seen other movies from this genre. Not being able to find the key when you desperately need to open a door or using the rolling pin for more than just baking. Yes, we can all guess what happens in those scenes.

However, luckily not all the scenes are predictable and towards the middle and the end, you get a few surprises on your plate. Sadly, to get that you’re going to have sit through the very sluggish and slow beginning but hold on tight cause “Greta” really becomes something you’re going to like for a few reasons.

One of those is the exceptionally successful collaboration between the director and the crew. While Jordan and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (“The Greatest Showman”, “Nocturnal Animals”) never worked together before, they really should do it again in the future.

The idea from Jordan to make a mysterious, thrilling and obscure film about what’s going to become a toxic relationship is brought perfectly to life thanks to the dark cinematography from McGarvey who uses a lot of close-ups.

Their vision is lifted to a higher level because of the awesome editing skills from Nick Emerson (“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”, “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn”).

If you treated yourself to “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn”, you know what you can expect. Fast-paced (and slow when it’s needed), rapidly changing scenes and abrupt stops. If you put the bombastic and striking film score from Javier Navarrete (“Byzantium”; “Wrath of the Titans”) underneath all of that, you get the captivating “Greta”.

One more fun fact that makes you praise the crew even more is that the story is taking place in New York but that the film was shot in Ireland and you definitely can’t tell the difference between the country of Guinness and the Big Apple. Hats off to that!

The predictability of the story can also be extended towards the acting performance but this time in a good way. For those who have seen Huppert in the role as the determined Michèle in “Elle” knows that she’s a master in playing a game of cat and mouse.

In this film, she’s splendid as the ruthless, wicked but classy French (or not?) Greta who clearly has two totally different faces. “Where and when will she turn up?” is the question that keeps us going throughout the entire movie and you clearly don’t want to mess with Huppert and her character.

Across from her, we see Chloë Grace Moretz who combines the determination from her “Suspiria” role with the innocent, loving and friendly side of her Cameron in “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” in a fascinating way.

In the maybe most unthankful role, we see the smashing Maika Monroe (“I’m Not Here”, “Independence Day: Resurgence”) as Erica, the typical party girl who’s living the perfect life but who’s also not afraid to get her hands dirty to fight for her best friend. 

It’s no surprise that the film got its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year as it’s one that sticks with you for a few good reasons and for some flaws.

Ok, yes the start could have gone a little bit smoother, maybe one or two predictable moments could have left out and the film could have been a little bit shorter but the story, the outstanding cinematography and the perfect leading lady make up for that. Just some advice from next time when you see a purse on the underground: Think twice before you take it home or you might regret it.

A young woman befriends a lonely widow who's harboring a dark and deadly agenda toward her.

18th April 2019

Neil Jordan

Ray Wright, Neil Jordan

Running Time:
1h 38mins

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