I think generations were so spoiled from Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick that when a great thriller comes along, its already somehow tainted. The old Tomato-Meter can be damned! I'm telling you to get out see "Greta." If you like an intense thriller, and if you like a crazy mystery, just go! There some tense imagery here that had me cringing in my seat. There are definitely some silly parts, no doubt, but the performances are excellent and will draw you in immediately, and its far more clever than critics are giving it credit for.
I also wonder if some critics aren't giving this a fair shot because of Chloe Grace Moretz. I will admit myself, I am not always her biggest admirer. I've liked some of her performances and I have loathed others. I can faithfully tell you that her work in "Greta" is superb and hits the right notes without being melodramatic. Moretz plays Frances. A young girl, living with her best friend from college, seemingly pretty new to living in the Big Apple. She seems to be making the most of it though. One day taking the subway home from work, she finds a purse. She tries to turn it in to the city's lost and found, but it just so happened to not be open that day. She takes the purse home, and finds an I.D. to whom it belongs to. She decides to give the purse back, despite reservations from her best friend Erica (Maika Monroe).
This brings Frances to Greta (Isabelle Huppert) a French woman who invites Frances in as a thank you. They talk and seem to identify with each other quickly. Greta's husband has been dead for years and she is estranged from her daughter. Frances by contrast lost her mother recently too and it has splintered her relationship with her father (Colm Feore) who she believes moved on too fast. Soon enough, Greta and Frances hang out, there is a sweet rapport between the two. There is a motherly bond Greta forms toward Frances, and Frances thinks she's just being nice.
That's until she's over at Greta's house for dinner, and finds a cupboard full of identical purses with different phone numbers and names on each of them.
As you could probably deduce, this freaks Frances out. She tries to shut Greta out of her life, but then Greta begins to stalk her. She endlessly calls Frances, shows up where she lives. Of course, Frances calls the police and of course, they aren't much help. We all know in movies like this that the police are rarely any help. Just when you think you've seen this before, "Greta" takes a few turns.
I don't even know if its really okay to call them "turns" or "twists." It just seems like the genre is handled a different way for a change. I think we getting closer to a pop culture that isn't going to be judged by its originality, but by its execution. It doesn't seem like there are anymore mysteries in this world, and it seems like even the original movies aren't very original anymore. Sitting down to a new movie not based on anything, you can still identify the pop culture the director soaked up and who they were inspired by. While I definitely like originality, I can recognize that there isn't tons of room for it anymore. Even new stories feel cut from the same cloth, and that's why execution and performance plays in. People have told me that "No Country For Old Men" is just another gangster movie, "Lord of the Rings" is just another fantasy and "The Dark Knight" is just another superhero movie. However, for my money, the execution of all three of those films is what sets them apart from the rest of their genres. I think very soon, execution will be the judgement standard of our pop culture instead of mere originality.
So yes, "Greta" does feel like many other movies of its kind. But I can tell you that Moretz throws herself at the role in way I rarely see from her. Isabelle Huppert? Dear god, is she creepy in this movie. I mean, she turns her creep game on something fierce, and the result is someone genuinely scary. Her performance never tips into cheese, even if the script sometimes wants to. But what I loved is that overall, the script plays things straight. There are some clever things that happen in the movie and it all adds up to a wild ride.
I don't want to give away too many tricks from this particular bag. So I will recommend that if you appreciate the genre, give this a try. I think you'll be glad you did.
FINAL GRADE: A