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It all started with a green handbag left behind in a subway car. Innocent enough. Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) spots the abandoned bag and looks through its contents finding the ID for one Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert) of Brooklyn. The Boston native has just moved to New York City after the devastating loss of her mother. Taking pity on the bag’s owner, she finds Greta, a lonely French widower and piano teacher who is very grateful to be reunited with her bag. The two become fast friends. Frances finds a mother figure in Greta and Greta dotes on Frances like she would her daughter who is away in Paris. Frances’ roommate Erica (Maika Monroe) thinks this is all a little suspicious but Frances shrugs it off as another of her roommate’s quirks. That is until one evening when Frances visits Greta, she discovers a cupboard full of green handbags, each with the name and phone number of other women. The realization of what she’s gotten into washes over Frances but it’s far too late. Greta begins to stalk Frances and the cat and mouse chase that ensues only intensifies the more Frances tries to escape Greta’s snare.
“The crazier they are the harder they cling.”
Greta is a psychological thriller that taps into the innate fear of intimacy gone wrong. The vulnerability of letting someone into your private world already exposes us to potential hurt. Frances is already in a weakened emotional state after the loss of her mother and her move to a new city. Her friend, the worldly Erica tries to be her support system but Frances has serious mommy issues that Erica can’t help her with. Relationships between women, whether romantic, familial or platonic, are a different beast and this film explores that on a surface level but could have gone much deeper into the psychology of those bonds. The relationship between Frances and Erica borders on the romantic and I wish it had explored that potential not necessarily for curiosity’s sake but as a potential threat to both Frances’ emotional wellbeing and fuel for Greta’s psychosis. Erica was only slightly at risk and even though she’s not our main focus, having her be in significant danger would have turned up the tension several notches.
With that said, the film is incredibly tense and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was emotionally invested in Frances and what became of her and Moritz and Huppert play off each other beautifully. Huppert as Greta is absolutely terrifying. Greta is a great villain but we don’t know much about her. We get little hints about her background but the audience doesn’t get much insight into her game and her other victims. While Greta was written by two men and directed by a man, Neil Jordan, it didn’t fall into the usual trappings of a male POV and I was grateful that it wasn’t a man who comes to a woman’s rescue. In fact the men in the film are fairly useless (for example, Stephen Rea plays an investigator who is no match for Greta) and the woman have to support themselves and each other. The film had potential. By not taking a deep dive into the psychology of the characters it just remains in the shallow end leaving viewers wanting more.