Some films are best if seen without any prior knowledge of the plot. Neil Jordan’s GRETA is one of them. As in Jordan’s THE CRYING GAME, the shock occurs when the girl the protagonist is having sex with suddenly is shown with a penis. The big surprise secret comes literally out of the closet at the 30-minus mark of Jordan’s latest psychological thriller GRETA.
Set in NYC, Isabelle Huppert plays a widow (the film’s original title was THE WIDOW) developing a friendship with a naïve young woman, Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz). Frances returns the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner, Greta (Huppert). The scene in the subway station in Manhattan was shot at Bay Station, Toronto. It is ironical that the Transit’s Lost and Found in Toronto is located at this Bay Station. Frances recently lost her mother and feels alienated by her father (Colm Meaney); Greta has lost her husband, and her daughter lives far away. The two become fast friends much to the consternation of her best friend Erika (Maika Monroe). Erika turns out to be a bigger part in the story than envisioned.
Unfortunately, the film ends with a totally unlikely twist in the plot that could only happen in a one in a million chance. This spoils an otherwise excellent thriller.
Still all things given, having seen the film twice, there are many pleasures derived from GRETA. One are the excellent performances by the two leads, Huppert and Moretz. Huppert is sufficiently creepy and nasty, a character the audience would love to hate, contrasting the innocent character of Frances who is so naive as to return a handbag with the cash intact.
Another pleasure is the campy dialogue, obviously written to bring the audience up to the type of talk of the present. When Frances tells Erika of returning the wad of money found in the handbag, Erika remarks on use of the money “Spa or colonic?” Erika continues that a friend who had colonic can now recite the alphabet backwards. When Frances later declines an outing invite from Erika, Erika’s retort is: “Am I snorting meth or you are telling me you are going dog shopping with the old lady?.” And another instance, Erika warns Frances: “The crazier they are, the more clinging they are.” The use of the chewing gum metaphor is also funny, “sticking around”.
As expected in a Jordan film, the film contains some very nasty (though camp) sequences. One is when Frances uses the cookie cutter to slice off Greta’s finger. Huppert is so good in her role as the menacing predator, that any audience member would also gladly slice off her finger. The camera quickly focuses on the blood spurting vertically out from the severed finger – a deliciously camp moment.
The film is largely shot in Toronto around the Bay Subway Station area. Those who live downtown will immediately recognize the familiar streets and buildings.
Though one can tell was will happen in this predictable horror fare, GRETA is still guilty pleasure due largely to Jordan’s flare for the weird.