Movie Review: “Greta”
Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) lost her mother a year ago and she is currently not speaking to her father. She is living in a New York City apartment with her best friend, Erica (Maika Monroe), but she still misses her mother dearly. Frances takes the subway to and from her job as a waitress at a nice restaurant, and one day she notices a purse that someone had left behind. Frances tries returning it to the lost and found but, when they are closed, Frances decides to take the purse home.
Inside the purse was the license of an older woman named Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert). Despite every warning of how insane this is (from Erica), Frances decides to return the purse to the woman’s address. After meeting Greta, the two become close friends. One day, however, Frances discovered a closet in Greta’s home with a bunch of purses, all identical to the one Frances found on the subway. On the back of each purse was a sticky note that read a name and a phone number. To make things worse, one of the sticky notes read the name “Frances”. This all started when Frances tried to do a good deed for an old woman, but she discovered that something more sinister may be going on and that her act of kindness may have put herself in the middle of a nightmare.
The Pros & Cons
Suspension of Disbelief (-6pts)
The Outcome (+2pts)
Pro: Greta (+5pts)
Greta, and the actress playing her, were definitely the best parts of this movie. Greta was insane and Isabelle Huppert did a great job of dialing up the character’s intensity, creepiness, and kindness whenever the situation called for any of these things. Isabelle Huppert did a really good job of making all of the character’s different moods feel natural at different times. This, all together, is what made the character feel so insane, because I never knew which version of Greta would be the one to react to any given situation.
I also enjoyed that the filmmakers never tried to explain why Greta was the way she was. This movie is far from an origin story. Instead, this movie begins at the climax of Greta’s story (which was the beginning of Frances’ story). The filmmakers just showed Greta as being crazy and that is really all there was to it. We never learn where she came from or how she became like this. She was just crazy, which helped maintain a thick layer of mystery around this character.
Con: Suspension of Disbelief (-6pts)
If you choose to see this movie, the filmmakers require you to suspend your disbelief for almost the entire story. If you start thinking about the plot of this movie (at all) you will notice that it is absolutely riddled with plot issues that all require you to just accept their ridiculousness if you hope to enjoy this movie. For me, this plagued the entire movie. Greta’s plan for luring in victims assumes that only really nice or really dumb people find her bag. It assumes that no member of law enforcement finds the bag, it assumes no one reports the bag, it assumes the lost and found is closed at the time that the bag is discovered, and it assumes whoever finds the bag decides to hand deliver it instead of just steal its contents (I mean how many bags did this woman have to go through in order to get one victim, she must be very popular at the store where she buys these bags).These are all major plot issues that make Greta come across extremely dumb, yet somehow extremely lucky. The biggest area of suspension of disbelief was the main character, but I will get into this later (as it was deserving of its own section in this review).
Con: Erica (+4pts)
I really did not like that I had to assume that the two main characters were dumb. Fortunately, there was one character who was the voice of reason throughout this movie. Erica, played well by Maika Monroe, was the character that thought what I was thinking and called Frances out on her constant bad decision making. She was the character that I related to because she was seemingly the only character in this story with a brain.
Again, I thought Maika Monroe did a good job in this movie, though after It Follows I am no stranger to seeing her do well in horror film roles. Still, she did a good job with this character. By the end of the movie, I was rooting for Erica more than Frances. This had little to do with the actresses’ performances and had everything to do with how the characters were depicted. I had strong issues with the main character, but Erica and Greta’s unpredictability were what kept me watching.
Con: Frances (-8pts)
Oh, this character was an idiot. Take nothing away from Chloe Grace Moretz, as I thought she did the best anyone could have done in the role. However, the entire plot of this story rides on the fact that the main character is an absolute moron. For the sake of not being redundant, I am going to ignore all the dumb things the main character did that I already mentioned in my rant on the suspension of disbelief (just know that she was the kind of dumb character that Greta’s plan was relying on). This movie had me wanting to yell things at Frances like “What are you doing?”, “Use that as a weapon!”, ”Just break the window, idiot!”, and “Finish her off!”.
My point is, the character (through her own naivety) gets herself in a bad situation. From there, she had countless opportunities to get herself out of that situation effectively, but the filmmakers did not want that to happen. Rather than write Greta so that she outsmarted Frances’ every move, the writers took the lazy way out and just made Frances an idiot. I mean Frances easily could have taken Greta (in a fist fight), but never even attempts it. I will be honest, words cannot even describe how dumb I found Frances to be in this movie. If she had missed one or two opportunities of escaping in a heated moment, I would have forgiven this and chalked it up to Frances just not thinking of something in a heated moment. However, when these opportunities were so blatant, it felt unnatural for the character not to notice them, which was a sign of how poorly written this character was.
Pro: The Outcome (+2pts)
I will keep this short to avoid spoilers, but I enjoyed the final outcome of this movie. I do not mean that I liked the specific way that it ended. However, while the beginning of the movie was predictable in the sense that I knew Greta was crazy when Frances did not, I had a tough time of predicting how the movie would end. I see a lot of movies, but this story was unique enough for me to be unable to guess what the final outcome of the story would be. I did not think that the ending was incredible, I just liked that I could not see what direction the movie was heading in, which let me just sit back and try to enjoy the ride.
Con: Slow (-4pts)
I thought the filmmakers focused a little too heavily on everything that took place before Frances discovered Greta’s secret. We knew from the trailers that this was a horror movie, and we knew that Greta was the antagonist. Unfortunately, I thought the filmmakers got a little too caught up with telling the events that took place before Frances’ not-so-shocking discovery. The problem with this is that we knew that Greta was the antagonist. We were then expected to sit there and watch Frances and Greta doing various mundane things together while pretending that Greta was not going to turn out to be a psycho. We see them cooking, having dinner, and doing various other non-exciting things. Knowing about Greta’s secret, before Frances did, made all of these scenes feel unimportant, but the filmmakers spent about thirty to forty minutes of the movie showing things that took place before the “reveal”, and it made the first half of the movie fairly boring.
Grade: D+ (68pts)
I thought Greta seemed like a unique movie. A woman, with mysterious sinister intentions, lures young women into a very bad situation. Greta is controlling and creepy throughout the entire movie and Isabelle Huppert was the primary reason why. Each of the main three actresses (Chloe Grace Moretz, Isabelle Huppert, and Maika Monroe) did a great job in this movie, but the characters they were playing were not necessarily as strong. I liked Maika Monroe’s character (Erica), but the other two definitely needed work.
Frances was a very dumb protagonist. This was one of those movies that will make audience members (like myself) want to yell at the main character for being a complete moron. The reason for this was lazy writing, and it had the side effect of making Greta come across as more lucky than cunning. I liked the unique concept of the story because it was hard to see where the story was heading, but the filmmakers spent way too much time showing what happened before Frances learned about Greta’s secret. The result was a movie where the first half of the story felt boring and unimportant. I thought this movie had potential, but I thought the filmmakers executed this idea very poorly. Some people seemed to like the movie, however, so if you do end up seeing the movie, I hope you like it more than I did.