Greta

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Greta
"The plot plays with the concept of friendship as a precious gift, or a perversion of captivity." | Photo: Courtesy of Toronto Film Festival

Wherever you look, she’s there. Wherever you walk, she’s behind you. Whenever you go to sleep, you wonder who will be sitting beside you when you awake. The fear of the stalker is psychological. Distance has never been safer. Friendship is too close.

“I’m like chewing gum,” Greta says. “I stick around.”

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Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) recently lost her mother. She is young enough, attractive enough, ambitious enough to ride out the lonely storm when it comes but she understands better what it must be like for the less fortunate, the emotionally insecure. Greta (Isabelle Huppert) is over 60 but looks younger. She leaves a handbag on the subway and Frances picks it up to be returned next day to the address inside.

What appears an innocent act of kindness becomes increasingly uncertain, even disturbing. The bag business has been used before. Frances discovers evidence of others. Where are they now? Once vulnerability is exploited as a key to the castle Greta can no longer be overruled as a troubled stranger.

The plot plays with the concept of friendship as a precious gift, or a perversion of captivity. Greta is never violent. Her needs are recognisable. Perhaps it is in Frances’ head that danger lurks. Who is sinking? Why? Who is lonely? Does terror build itself from imagination’s core into a genuine threat? What is real when life cuts the wires from expectation to uncertainty?

As a story emerges, nothing quite fits. Frances feels the rush beneath her feet. With the help of flatmate Erica (Maika Monroe), who is beginning to sense the power of Greta’s fantasies, escape has fresh meaning.

It is easy to criticise Frances for naivety and forcing the action along well-trodden pathways as if thrillers involving stalkers are all the same. This is far from the case. Writer/director Neil Jordan treads carefully and allows the quality of Huppert’s performance to take the audience by the hand. It is a gentle diversion from what you don’t know to what you find out, not so much a mystery as a manipulation.

Excitement ties the knot.

Reviewed on: 19 Apr 2019
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Greta packshot
A young woman befriends a lonely widow whose motives aren't all they seem.

Director: Neil Jordan

Writer: Ray Wright, Neil Jordan

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Jane Perry, Jeff Hiller, Parker Sawyers, Brandon Lee Sears, Arthur Lee, Rosa Escoda, Jessica Preddy, Thaddeus Daniels, Raven Dauda, Colm Feore, Zawe Ashton, Nagisa Morimoto

Year: 2018

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Ireland, US

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