Despite a good cast and a decent premise, Neil Jordan’s Greta frustrates with its host of implausibilities. Although the bombast is welcome, it is not enough to save the film.
When Frances finds a handbag left on the subway, she decides to return it to its owner. She returns the handbag to Greta, a lonely widow. The widow strikes up a friendship with the young girl, but all is not what it seems…
Greta is a psychological thriller in the vein of Single White Female. At first glance, writer-director Jordan and co-writer Ray Wright’s film has all the elements to make this type of thriller work. There is the naive, wide-eyed protagonist. There is of course the unnerving antagonist. There is the initial set up with the undercurrent of unease.
Despite these aspects, the film falters early on. There are too many plot holes, asking the audience to suspend disbelief too much and too early. The early harassment phase is palatable enough, even generating tension at times. The film goes off the deep end completely in the second half, and doubles down rather than attempting a recovery. Jordan settles on a flamboyant take, which viewers need to be fully on board with. The camp theatrics are not quite convincing enough to forgive the impossibilities.
There is too much in the narrative that is implausible. The actions of the protagonist defy logic. Moreover, Greta works well as an antagonist in the psychological rather than physical sense. The final third is nonsensical, given the parity in strength between the two main characters. Two late scenes involving additional characters are particularly silly.
The score is overwrought, coming in too early for its intensity. Visual effects are decent, as is the production design. Isabelle Huppert is simply too good for the material. She hams it up adequately, revelling in the ridiculousness rather than playing it straight. Meanwhile, Chloë Grace Moretz is more earnest than the film deserves. Maika Monroe is decent in a supporting role.
Greta is too exasperating to be enjoyable. Neil Jordan has a flair for the flamboyant, but does not manage to pull it off successfully here.