Film Review: “Greta” (2019) ★★★★

In most cases, us people are very nice. We like helping others, holding the door for strangers, and are normally genuinely polite. That’s how we’re supposed to be, isn’t it? However, there are instances, and way too many, I am afraid when the same generosity has been taken advantage of by individuals that use it for their own benefit. You might say it’s fine, it’s alright but not everyone is the same. But the person you’re about to meet in “Greta” is a whole different case. The titular character will make you think and rethink many times before you do what Frances did – a seemingly innocent gesture of human kindness by returning a forgotten belonging found on a train.

Neil Jordan’s “Greta”, set in modern-day New York City, follows Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young woman who, during one of her rides on the train, finds a bag left by someone. When she opens the bag, she finds an identification card in it belonging to a woman with the name Greta (Isabelle Huppert). Frances does what many would do, comes to the woman’s home to give her the lost bag back. The woman is very happy about it and is in a rush to thanks Frances with a cup of coffee. Frances agrees to enter her home but soon after will regret her decision. But, by then, it will be too late for her to do anything else other than resist someone who has no intention of letting her go.

Frances, as we learn, is still trying to recover from the death of her mother. Her mind is weak. Her psychological situation is not in the best state. Her best friend, Erica (always interesting to watch Maika Monroe), supports her as much as she can. When Frances meets Greta, an old woman living in a house,  she quickly becomes a friend with her. Mostly, as we analyze her, because of the loss of her mother. In Greta, Frances sees someone who she can take care of, help with loneliness or just be a good friend. That’s something that helps to shape Frances’ personality as an extremely caring person. When Greta plays the piano, Frances tells her, “You should not be alone”, but it’s Greta’s reply that will stun anyone when she says, “Oh do not worry my dear, soon you will be gone as well.”

“Greta” is a classic example of what may happen when police do not take seriously a complaint about stalking. It does not take that long to realize that Greta is a psycho who uses not physical strength that she does not have, but her mind that is dangerously brilliant. She literally follows Frances everywhere, comes to her workplace, follows her friend, and constantly calls her on her landline or cell phone. Frances no longer knows how to handle or distance herself from the insanely obsessive lady. Then, she decides to play a game which right from the beginning we already come to know she had no chances of winning.

There are many reasons to watch “Greta” and three of them are Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Maika Monroe. However, while the female lead cast is truly outstanding, it’s the concept of the movie that will strike most of you. Just think about it, how many times men were demonized in a movie, captured as a monster, heartbreaker, and even a serial killer? But how about women? Why are we treated so nicely all the time? Why have we always been portrayed as a victim, when women, if they want to, can be more violent than any man altogether, if not more creative in terms of harming others? The case of Gertrude Baniszewski can be used as a great example. 

In the end, “Greta” is a nail-biting psychological thriller that will remind you of the most amazingly done thrillers from the sweet 90’s such as “Never Talk to Strangers” (1995) and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” (1992), both of which had Rebecca de Mornay in leading roles. It examines whether if we can trust people, the limit of kindness, and how careful we must be when it comes letting a stranger enter our life. While it’s not an issue of trust, it’s about how criminals search for their next victim, the qualities that should match their requirements and a wicked mind that literally can pull off any insane plan.

When out of kindness, Frances tells Greta, “I’m like chewing gum…. I tend to stick around”, this iconic line gives us two different perspectives – one to help and another to justify stalking.  That said, if there’s anything you should take away from this film, it’s that don’t be like chewing gum and do not stick around when something tells you that you should not. When a voice inside your head screams, “run, run as fast as you can,” you must do it immediately. Frances, of course, disregards her friend’s warning about her friendship with the lady that she barely knew and will fall into Greta’s trap. The outcome of it, if she’s lucky enough to survive, will haunt her till the rest of her life.

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