Film Review: Greta

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.

Forever Young: Neil Jordan’s Girl Vampires

Girl Vampires

This week sees the release of Byzantium. This is director Neil Jordan’s second foray into the world of vampires, following 1994’s Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles. Both films feature girl vampires. Despite the age difference between the characters, there are definite parallels.

Byzantium‘s Eleanor is sixteen year old when she is turned, while Interview with the Vampire‘s Claudia is yet to hit puberty. Both of Jordan’s films emphasise the limitations of their age as immortals; the constraints of being forever young. Claudia is at first contented in her lifestyle, happy to be indulged with dolls and victims by her ‘parents’ Lestat and Louis. After thirty years as a girl vampire, however, Claudia longs to age. She begins to obsess on the adult female form, pining for a body she will never inhabit. Claudia’s body is her prison, an ageless form impeding a maturing mind.

Neil Jordan draws Eleanor with a similar predicament of restriction, although hers is less corporeal and more emotional. From the beginning of Byzantium, Eleanor paints a lonely figure; her lifestyle demanding a solitary existence. More than anything, Eleanor wishes to share her secret, something Clara forbids her her to do. With his young protagonist, Jordan accentuates the isolation of the undead amongst the living. As a girl vampire, Eleanor shares the same spaces as humans but is ultimately unable to connect because of her secret. Eleanor is at an age that she wishes to embark on relationships. Unlike Clara, she never had any chance of this before she was turned. Eleanor is stunted therefore in wanting to experience the same things as her peers but being unable to immerse herself entirely with humans.


Claudia and Eleanor are both hindered by their gender, despite the differences in setting. As a young girl in the nineteenth century, Claudia is expected to act the part. She has to maintain the appearance of a young girl in prim dresses. When she attempts to rebel against this by cutting her hair, her locks grow back just as they were. Looking at her never-changing her, Claudia’s frustration is all too clear. Even among her own kind, Claudia faces additional expectation as a girl vampire. When she hides a female corpse amongst her toys, her fathers are disgusted by her behaviour, which is sprung from a natural curiosity. Eleanor is similarly constrained by her age and gender. Although she is capable of handling herself, Clara desire to protect is clear. Clara shields Eleanor from the realities of survival, ensuring she is not tainted by some of the more unseemly ways the former makes money. Moreover, Clara and Eleanor are hunted by their own kind, simply for being female.

Jordan’s girl vampires are desirous of something just beyond their grasp. Seeming to accept the fact she will never be a woman, Claudia looks for a mother figure. Typical of the constraints of her age and perhaps gender however, Claudia is unable to sire a vampire herself. While Eleanor has an older female figure to provide guidance, she wishes for companionship of her own age. Unable to share her secret greatly diminishes the connections she is able to make.

The girl vampires in Neil Jordan’s films experience the limitations of the corporeal form and necessities of the undead existence. Loneliness and restriction loom heavy of proceedings; unfortunate consequences of becoming immortal before reaching adulthood. To a certain extent, vampirism acts as a metaphor for puberty, or specifically stunted growth, with regards to both Claudia and Eleanor. Both characters wish to enjoy the freedoms that adulthood brings, but are stuck at an age where this is impractical or impossible. These girl vampires have the mental capacity to live as adults, but are stuck in a shell that is forever young.

Byzantium is released in UK cinemas on 31st May 2013.


Film Review: Byzantium


Neil Jordan’s Byzantium is superb. Gothic mores are placed centre stage in this vampiric tale.

Clara and Eleanor move from place to place; their lifestyles meaning it is tricky to stay in one location for too long. Whilst Clara is more concerned about finding a new home, Eleanor is desperate to tell the story she has held on to for a very long time…

Director Neil Jordan was the perfect choice to execute Moira Buffini’s story. There are definite parallels between Byzantium and Jordan’s earlier Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles. Byzantium also concentrates on the detractions of immortality rather than the violence of vampirism. This is not to say, however, that there is a lack of blood.

Byzantium is a very absorbing film. The sense of mystery is potent. Combined with the interesting characters and well-crafted narrative, it makes the film an engaging view. Pacing in Byzantium is good. The narrative is executed finely, feeding the audience Eleanor’s tale bit by bit. Some of the reveals are quite predictable, but this not detract from the overall enjoyment.

Vampire lore is employed and subverted in Byzantium. In spite of the modern setting, hallmarks of the gothic remain in the landscape of the dreary towns and space which Eleanor inhabits. This plays into the overall theme of loneliness.

Jordan’s direction is solid in both the frenetic moments and the more pensive scenes. There is some nice composition throughout the film. Effects are good for the most part; the film is only let down by some artificial-looking colouring.

Performances in Byzantium are strong. Caleb Landry Jones stands out in particular, while Saoirse Ronan is excellent casting as Eleanor. Gemma Arterton is also decent as Clara.

Byzantium is a worthy addition to the vampire canon. The film pays homage to its predecessors whilst putting its own spin on proceedings.

Stuff To Look At

The post in which I wax lyrical about new movie trailers. And inform you of the films set for release this summer. And get annoyed when I find out film characters share my name. The audacity…

Summer of Cinema 2013

Two weeks ago I went to the launch of ‘Summer of Cinema 2013’ to hear about upcoming releases and enjoy a mini burger (I love miniature food). There is lots to see this summer, from the big blockbusters (Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness) to films by Robert Redford and Sofia Coppola. Check out the compilation above.


Epic has a rather impressive cast voicing its characters. Among others, Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried and Christoph Waltz lend their voices. Beyonce voices a character called ‘Princess Tara’. Contrary to popular belief, this is not actually by nickname. Although I am not happy about the use of my name, I will reserve judgement until I see how this character plays out. Epic is released is UK cinemas on 22nd May 2013.

Much Ado About Nothing

A departure from vampires and superheroes, Joss Whedon directs a contemporary update of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in twelve days and starring some of Whedon’s previous collaborators, the film is a far cry from the filmmaker’s recent output. I am looking forward to this foray into Shakespeare; it will be interesting to see if Whedon can handle it as well as he does big-budget comic book fare. Much Ado About Nothing is released on 14th June 2013.

The Seasoning House

Well, The Seasoning House is certainly not about the abode of spices. This revenge thriller looks pretty brutal. The Seasoning House is the directorial debut of special effects designer Paul Hyett. The film is out in cinemas on 21st June 2013.

In Fear

This trailer is almost haunting. It’s definitely the music. In Fear is a British horror film starring Alice Englert. It looks like a warning never ever to go on a car journey, and not just because they make you feel a bit queasy. Perhaps this is just me. In Fear is due for release in Autumn 2013.


Neil Jordan knows vampires. That’s why I am looking forward to Byzantium, unlike some other recent vampire flicks *cough Twilight cough*. Starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, Byzantium is released in UK cinemas on 31st May 2013.

Thor: The Dark World

For the first minute-plus of this trailer I must have been in the majority of people thinking ‘yeah, but where the hell is Loki? I know Tom Hiddleston is in this film’. Looking rather bedraggled, Avenger Assemble‘s fantastic antagonist finally makes an appearance. Thor: The Dark World hits the big screen in the UK on 30th October 2013.