Greta has the necessary elements for a sinister thriller, but fails to piece them together in a believable way. The result is a well acted film with sizable plot holes. Greta also doesn't take into account modern technology. A cell phone can track your precise location anywhere on the planet in milliseconds. It's premise might have worked in the Hitchcock era, but strains credulity in the twenty-first century. Greta is a rare miss for Oscar winning director and screenwriter Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire).
Chloe Moretz stars as Frances, a kindhearted millennial struggling with the loss of her recently deceased mother. Frances has just moved to bustling New York City. She finds a stylish green purse while riding the subway. She decides to personally return the purse to the woman on the identification card inside. Her chirpy roommate (Maika Monroe) thinks she's nuts. Pocket the cash and mail it back.
Frances takes the purse to the home of Greta (Isabelle Huppert), who's overjoyed. Frances is charmed by Greta's foreign accent, piano playing, and sophisticated personality. Greta, a widower, who's daughter long left the nest, is terribly lonely. She and Frances strike up a friendship that fills the hole in both of their hearts. But Frances soon realizes that Greta is not who she purports to be. Her attempts to break off their relationship reveals a sadistic and dangerous stalker.
The first act of the film is strong. Chloë Moretz and Isabelle Huppert, two excellent actresses from different generations, sell the burgeoning relationship. It makes sense that this pair would find solace in each other. The plot goes off the rails when Greta becomes threatening. Her stalker actions border on the absurd. Greta has superhuman abilities to watch and follow Frances. When the situation turns violent, the interaction is implausible. Isabelle Huppert is a sixty-five year old, diminutive woman. The idea of her overpowering twenty somethings is laughable.
Neil Jordan's script portrays law enforcement and Frances' inner circle as easily played buffoons. I could only suspend disbelief for so long. A cell phone constantly pings towers. Police can geolocate your phone in milliseconds. Every block in New York City is under camera surveillance. It's pretty much impossible to vanish from the streets without being recorded. They could easily track Greta and Frances' movements. This fact torpedoes the climax of the film. It may have worked in olden times, but is certainly not viable today.
The tension established in the beginning of Greta is sadly wasted. There was meat on the bone for a delicious finale. Instead the film devolves into B-movie horror tropes. Isabelle Huppert's tremendous talent is funnelled into a foolishly maniacal villain. Jordan also squanders away the talent of his longtime collaborator Stephen Rea, who has a less than memorable supporting role. There was a chance for greatness here, but the bad outweighs the good. A rewrite with modern sensibilities was sorely needed. Greta is distributed by Focus Features.