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Byron Shire
September 24, 2021

Cinema Review: Greta

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Greta

You only need to look at the Oscars to see that it is the formulaic flicks that get the gongs. Even the unresolved ending is now par for the course, particularly in the psycho genre. Neil Jordan, who weirded us out all those years ago with ‘The Crying Game’ (1992), is back to give us the heebie-jeebies again with a slow-burn thriller that keeps you guessing without ever flouting the conventions of its form. Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz), still mourning the loss of her mother, works as a waitress in a Manhattan restaurant – how she and her flatmate Erica (Maika Monroe), who appears to do nothing more than attend parties and practise yoga, can afford to live in their spacious loft is unexplained, but it’s an irritant that becomes an irrelevance as the story finds traction. Which it does, after Frances returns the handbag that she has found on the subway to its owner, Greta (Isabelle Huppert), whose daughter is studying music in Paris – or so she says. Greta’s house is as unlikely as the girls’ apartment, being a cute brick cottage that you might find in a French village, but such lack of subtlety is forgiven when lonely Greta starts playing mind games with vulnerable Frances. Dining at chez Greta one evening, Frances discovers that she is not the first person to have fallen for the handbag bait, so she tries to ‘unfriend’ the older woman – but to no avail. Greta calls constantly and stalks her every movement, and as she does so Frances begins to unravel emotionally and mentally. Jordan cranks up the creepiness to great effect – there is a genuinely scary scene in which Erica is being followed by Greta, who photographs her as she goes and simultaneously shares the pics with Frances – but there are also a couple of dream sequences that confuse and briefly derail the drama’s momentum. Huppert, an actress generally cast as the pale and fragile heroine, is unexpectedly disarming and Franz Listz’s ‘Love Dream’ has never sounded so edgy.


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