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 the 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.