In the ‘90s, I thrived on thrillers such as Hush, A Perfect Murder, and Kiss the Girls. If Gwyneth Paltrow or Ashley Judd were on the poster, you had a pretty good idea of what you were getting into. Watching these movies now with a more critical eye, it’s difficult to ignore their clichés and contrivances. But there’s no denying they still give me a rush of guilty pleasure – which is just what Neil Jordan’s new psychological thriller Greta does.
It’s not lacking in the department of clichés and contrivances, leaving a plot that feels very familiar. But in the hands of Jordan, the suspense builds to a fever pitch, doing everything a Hollywood thriller is so good at doing (and here allow me to indulge in writerly clichés the way the movie does with its plot): hold your breath, sit at the edge of your seat, and feel chills racing up and down your spine.
What truly ratchets up the level of creep is Isabelle Huppert’s performance. As the lonely widow Greta she exudes dread with unblinking stares, manic laughter, and bubblegum. Chloë Grace Moretz, as the young Frances who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Greta, is a solid co-star, all doe eyes and naivete, but not averse to leaping into action when compelled.
Going into the movie, I was aware that the title character was duplicitous. Initially, I was disappointed at what I thought a mild spoiler, but the rapid revelation of the title character’s true nature allayed my disappointment somewhat. Nevertheless, the film’s set-up still feels rushed and a bit forced, with not enough time for Greta’s relationship with the young Frances to develop before it plunges into its chilling cat-and-mouse routine.
Towards the end of the movie, the plot tries to throw you off the scent of its ending, but it still plays out very predictably. However, cast aside your concerns to dissect later and just revel in the movie’s knife-edge suspense and excellent leads.
Greta is in cinemas now.
Image courtesy of Starburst Promotions.