When Isabelle Huppert presented the 2017 BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema to Curzon, she joked about the inordinate amount of time between that BAFTA appearance and her previous one, 39 years earlier when she won Best Actress for The Lacemaker. It is to be hoped that her performance in the wildly entertaining and wildly ridiculous Greta sees her eminently more nominated, or at least invited, when these annual fiestas of backslapping roll around once more.
Greta, the new thriller by Neil Jordan, really only exists in anything more than the most perfunctory format because of the Huppert’s performance. It’ s a hysterical, screeching genre piece that feels slightly out of place in the days where the only genre pieces are different genre pieces – comic book ones to be exact – but it is a diamond in the rough and worth seeing because of her and the dialled-up-to-eleven, utterly ludicrous air of the whole piece.
Chloe Grace Moretz’s young urbanite waitress, Frances, lives in New York City with her affluent roommate Erica (Maika Monroe), eking out a living as a waitress but happy to be in the city. She finds a lost handbag on the subway and, driven by a specifically non-New Yorker altruism (she is from Boston) returns it to the address written on the card inside. She finds the widowed French piano teacher, Greta (Huppert) living alone is over the moon that anyone would bother to return it and invites the young woman inside.
Frances, you see, has recently lost her mother and Greta, it seems, is pining for her daughter on the other side of the world. So, the two strike up a friendship that seems mutually fantastic until Greta starts to appear at Frances’ place of work, unable to let Frances out of her sight for the moment. Things, then, take a distinctly stalker-ish turn for the worse.
It could exist as a perpetual video store shelf warmer in another time and without its star turn. That it doesn’t marks it out as a curio, but the level is lifted by a camp directorial style (Jordan knows exactly what he’s doing, here) and the mesmerising central performance of Huppert. The movie is so keen so paint her as a loose canon that, at times, her character resembles Michael Myers. Grace Moretz plays it with a straight bat and that helps keep things from flopping over into outright comedy. It’s a strange broth, and one that surely won’t be lapped up by everyone. But its throwback sensibilities feel utterly welcome and it is, without question, a riotously amusing watch.
Chris Banks | [rating=3]
Thriller, Mystery | Ireland/USA, 2018 | 15 | 19th April 2019 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir.Neil Jordan | Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe