Thriller film, Greta, shows us that no good deed goes unpunished, but in a lacklustre fashion. This review may contain spoilers.
Neil Jordan’s film starts with a young women, Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) finding a handbag on the subway, in New York. She returns it to its eccentric French piano enthusiast, Greta (Isabelle Huppert). The two form an unlikely friendship, papering over the cracks of loss within their own lives. It takes a turn for the worst, when Greta’s behaviour became more obsessive and controlling. She begins stalking Frances, who does her best to end the friendship before it gets too toxic.
I loved the premise of this, it’s brilliant in that it twists such an innocence premise of a good deed and kind heart gone wrong. It had so much potential and within that, there are many twists you could have with it that. That said I was disappointed in the execution.
We don’t get to explore why Greta became so obsessed, it seemed to go from zero to a hundred in a matter of moments. One moment the two are enjoying a dinner, the next Frances discovers the closet of green bags. The secret is exposed. Yet it’s explained away, she’s allowed to escape. It leaves you asking that one question. Why?
It left me so confused considering later Greta managed to captured her in the end. Treating Frances the way she had her daughter. You also noticed that she had done this before. What Jordan didn’t show us was the why. A running theme of the film, and now my review.
We saw no motive to Greta’s action, whether she targeted specific people. I cannot buy the half-hearted excuse that she’d behaved this way out of loneliness, which is given, and one we’re forced to accept. It’s afterthought of the entire film. If we were supposed to sympathise, find rationality or understand Greta’s motivations, we didn’t.
Instead, the film focused more of trying to lace tense scenes and jump-scares to add further twists. Some were entirely irrelevant to the storyline of the film. The elevator scene and the twist on how Greta gets Frances, in a drug induced state, to name a few. They could be taken out and it would not have lost anything.
I, also, found they took more away from the ‘thriller’ aspect. The elevator trapping Frances and shrinking in size was confusing. This wasn’t a supernatural thriller, it had no place being in this film; and to blame it on ‘drugs’ to me screamed bad writing. It was more a cheap trick a thriller could rely on for an easy scare. Had they let the story breathe and added more context to give it mire rich layers, the material would have spoken for itself and I’d have been left terrified.
I think what frustrated me was that we missed that crucial point of a thriller, the motivation. Where was the twist? We needed to learn how Greta became such a monster. It’s hinted a little with her rocky past with her child, but before we can poke around to find out more, it’s quickly shoved to side.
The film tried so hide to provide gripping scenes, subvert expectations and provide a psychological element. For me, it failed to deliver on all parts. I couldn’t invest myself into the story. I wanted this thriller to show me not just how Greta was a villain, but why; and it sorely lacked that. That for me, would have made it more believable.
If it had focused more on that than providing scenes that added nothing to the story, it would have been a great film. The potential is there, had the execution been better and the writing more focused on little details than trying to outsmart the audience.
Beware the box.