The reason you may want to see “Greta,” directed by Neil Jordan from a screenplay he wrote with Ray Wright, is the compelling performance by Isabelle Huppert. Not that the other main cast members aren’t proficient, but Huppert, no matter what kind of a role she plays, is always superb. She must have had an enjoyable time playing Greta Hideg, a lonely, deranged woman with a friendly but lethal smile masking her psychotic behavior. Huppert is photographed full face on the screen as if she were full of honey. But beware. Huppert has a storehouse of acting technique to define this bizarre character.
The film itself is a thriller that can grip one’s attention, yet it is fatally filled with moments when sensible action might have derailed the plot and caught up with Greta. It also strikes a humorous blow against being too good a citizen. If you should see a lonely purse left on a seat in a subway car, take it right to the authorities. After seeing “Greta,” you may think twice about trying to find the owner.
Chloë Grace Moretz as Frances McCullen, a kindhearted young woman, makes the mistake of personally delivering a purse to the owner, Greta Hideg, who, Frances subsequently learns to her chagrin, meets women that way and pulls them into her needy emotional clutches. As the plot escalates, Frances becomes Greta’s target and can’t get rid of the ever-present and demanding woman. Erica Penn, Greta’s roommate, is played firmly by Maika Monroe, who becomes increasingly alarmed.
The story typically builds into a blaze of horror. Frances’ father, when realizing that his daughter has gone missing, hires a detective (Stephen Rae) to investigate. Too bad for him. As is the case with such thrillers, you figure things will have to work out for the heroine, but getting there takes quite a while and many avoidable complications.
But it is worth the price of admission to watch the great French actress Huppert do her stuff in a role that, while overshadowed by some of the fabulous parts she has had in more significant films during her long career, displays a different side of her talent that provides a load of evil charisma thoroughly enjoyable to watch. A Focus Features release. Reviewed March 7, 2019.