Full Review: GRETA (Ireland/USA 2018) ***

Greta Poster
Trailer

Director:

Neil Jordan

Writers:

Ray Wright (screenplay by), Neil Jordan (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

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.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7SUePnsxWo

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TIFF 2018 Review: GRETA (Ireland/USA 2018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Greta Poster
A young woman befriends a lonely widow.

Director:

Neil Jordan

Writers:

Ray Wright (screenplay by), Neil Jordan (screenplay by)| 1 more credit »

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 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).  Frances recently lost her mother and feels alienated by her father; Greta has lost her husband, and her daughter lives far away.   The two become fast friends much to the consternation of her best friend (Maika Monroe).  

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.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7SUePnsxWo

Film Review: THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING (USA 2016) ***

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The Scent of Rain & Lightning Poster
Based on the novel THE SCENT OF RAIN & LIGHTNING by Nancy Pickard. When a young woman learns her parents’ killer has been released from jail, she is forced to revisit old wounds while …See full summary »

Director:

Blake Robbins

Writers:

Nancy Pickard (novel), Jeff Robison (screenplay) |3 more credits »

Is there a scent to rain or lightning?  There really isn’t but in the film torrid sex is happening during a storm.  There is clearly a scent of trouble as a killing is about to happen, a killing that is the subject of this moody, atmospheric film.

With a title like THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING, one would expect a good atmospheric thriller. The film does look stunning, courtesy of cinematographer Lyn Moncrief, where his lightning is often just sufficient enough for the audience to see only what is necessary in the plot.  The film is beautifully shot in Oklahoma with steers and cows roaming about in a ranch, the setting of the story, though not much work is shown with the animals on the ranch.

The film begins with a bearded inmate released from prison with the opening credits appearing on screen.   It is a 5 – 10 minute. long opening that could have been cut shorter.  The audiences is primed for a slower paced thriller than the norm of the thriller genre.  It appears that a young woman’s parents’ killer has been released from jail.  The woman is Jody Linder (Maika Monroe).  Word in her small town suggests he may be innocent.  Jody is also approached by the killer’s son that he is innocent of the murder.  Jody begins questioning the police investigation and witnesses, and uncovers her own family secrets to piece together the shocking truth.  

The film is based on the bestselling novel The Scent of Rain & Lightning by Nancy Pickard with a script written by two males, Jeff Robison and Casey Twenter and directed by a male director, Robbins (who gives himself a cameo as Sheriff Don Phelps).  The film has therefore both a strong male and female point of view of the proceedings.  This is a good thing, something rare in films these days with many a narrative leaning way too far towards either the female or male direction.

Director Robbins’s narrative is difficult to follow.  There are many reasons for this unfortunate state of affairs.  For one, all the females are blondes with long flowing hair.  It takes a while to distinguish that one is the Linder mother, another the Linder daughter and yet another the grandmother.  The flashbacks, a few too many flow into the main narrative at any time, making it difficult to tell which is which.  The casting of Meg Crosbie as the young Jody and Maika Monroe as the older Jodie while all other characters undergoing age differences are performed by the same actor is also disorienting.  The many dimly lit scenes do not help either.  As the adult Linder pieces the puzzle of her father’s death so the audiences have to piece together the sense of the film’s plot.

As the title implies, the film might be more satisfying to the artsier crowd.  The film also contains a non-Hollywood ending.  The question of ‘what will Jody do after she discovers the truth of her father’s murder’ is not satisfactory answered.  As such, it really makes no sense in the driving force of the narrative, whether she succeeds in her quest or not.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/254204096

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