TIFF18: Greta

Frances is travelling home on the subway when she spots a forgotten purse. Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) puts her good samaritan hat on and decides to return it to the owner personally. Greta (Isabelle Huppert) is grateful and touched by the gesture, and though they’re an unlikely pair, they form a friendship. Greta is a lonely widow with an estranged daughter and a hole in her life. Frances is working as a waitress while she tries to find direction for her life without the help of a mother (who passed). So you might say the two fill slots in each other’s hearts, and therefore their friendship blossoms quickly. Frances’s roommate Erica (Maika Monroe) doesn’t get what her friend sees in the older woman, but there’s a certain comfort there – not a replacement for her mother of course, but a sense of validation and care in a world where fewer and fewer genuine connections are made.

But this is not a movie about female friendship. One evening, when Frances is eating dinner at Greta’s house, she stumbles upon a cupboard filled with purses identical to theMV5BNTFmZjI3OTItNjZjNi00NWFjLTgyN2ItNzA5MjAyOGRhNjBmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ1MTYzNzY@._V1_ one she found and returned. They all have ID and similar contents, and they’ve all been labelled with a name and number, presumably of the person who has returned it. Confused and appalled, Frances makes a hasty exit. But it’s too late. Greta has decided that Frances will be her friend. For life. Like it or not. Which is when things get stalkery. The police are no help, of course. They don’t intervene until some major shit has gone down. And believe me it’s about to go down.

Isabelle Huppert puts the psycho into psychodrama. The ramp she builds up toward sinister is subtle, and the one toward crazy quite steep. She is simply fantastic: invasive, desperate, psychotic. Watching her dance around was one of the highlights of the whole festival. She’s deranged in a way that makes you want to laugh, just slightly, until you get those chills down your spine.

Director Neil Jordan builds some terrific suspense but doesn’t always know what to do with it. Greta veers wildly from off-the-wall original to quite predictable. But its unevenness isn’t going to stop Greta from being one of those movies that people talk about. It might even become a cult hit. Huppert lives up to it, deserves to be recognized as a cult villain icon. Isabelle Huppert is a queen, Greta is a witch, and this movie will stick with you for longer than you’d like.

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10 thoughts on “TIFF18: Greta

  1. orcaflotta

    Isabelle Huppert enobles every movie she’s in. She’s one of those ultra reliable gems troubled producers cast in hopes to save the flick. Even in small roles and ultra shitty crapflicks she shines. Ghost in the Shell anyone?

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  2. Birgit

    Wow! I only knew the name of this film and wondered if it had something to do with Greta Garbo..boy was I wrong! When i first was reading your review, I thought it was going to be one of those pictures about 2 women who find each other..holy twist and turn Batman! I really want to see this film now

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    1. Jay Post author

      Haha, you felt as I did then. At festivals you go in knowing so little, I was unprepared for how creepy this would be, and you know me, I’m a scaredy cat, and I certainly would not have attempted this without Sean had I known. Interesting, though. And sometimes the tension climbs so high that the director relieves you with a funny bit, and the whole theatre is so desperate for it! I can’t wait to hear what you think.

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  3. Liz A.

    Oh wow, that’s an interesting twist. Although, “twist” probably isn’t the word as that means that one is surprised in the theater. Maybe turn. Interesting turn.

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  4. selizabryangmailcom

    This sounds much better than Play Misty For Me. My husband couldn’t believe I’d never seen the *famous* Clint Eastwood movie & we watched it recently and I was amused at how over-the-top crazy the female stalker was from the jump. Like from the moment she came over uninvited to his place & then started tearing up when he was like, “WTF are you doing here?” he should have never spoken to her again, in my opinion. I know it was Clint’s commentary on the *loose* morals of the ’60s and ’70s, I guess warning people not to have TOO MUCH FUN or something. But anyway, Greta seems much more approachable and atmospheric, and I’ve always liked Neil Jordan.

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  5. mydangblog

    My brother saw it and really enjoyed it, although he said it was quite gory at times. I just saw a trailer for a film called Mandy with Nicholas Cage that seems kind of in the same vein–have you seen it?

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