Co-written by Academy-Award-winning Jordan and Ray Wright, it tells the story of Frances McCullen (Moretz), a young woman struggling to fit into New York life. She has a job as a waitress in an upscale Manhattan restaurant, misses her deceased mother, and feels estranged from her newly married father. Her only true friend is Erica Penn (Maika Monroe), a boisterous 20-something from a wealthy family with whom she shares an apartment.
After discovering a handbag on a New York subway train, Frances sets about returning it to its rightful owner. This good deed places her in the orbit of an enigmatic middle-aged widow named Greta, played by the unstoppable Huppert.
Grieving for her recently deceased mother, Frances strikes up an unusual friendship with Greta. As she tells the older woman, she is known by her friends for her loyalty. She is like chewing gum – she “sticks around”.
Inner stalker …
In between dog-shopping and cosy dinners, Frances makes an alarming discovery that changes her perspective on her new friend. When she tries to sever ties with Greta, things get stranger and more sinister and Frances’ once innocent remarks take on a very ironic resonance as Greta unleashes her inner stalker.
Monroe gives a great performance as Erica, the apparently conceited and snarky roommate who becomes more and more involved as the film progresses. The film also stars Stephen Rea as a private investigator hired to investigate Greta, while Zawe Ashton plays a mysterious woman with important information about Greta’s past.
Twists and turns
With Greta, Jordan is doing what he does best: subverting genre expectations and creating a unique and unexpected experience.
On his decision to direct this film, he says: “I’m more interested in stories that haven’t been told. I liked that the stalker was a sweet, middle-aged lady. That really intrigued me, and I wanted to see how I could play with that and push the stalker logic into some kind of twisted fairytale. It felt like a contemporary urban version of Hansel and Gretel; but it’s also about something quite serious. It’s about loneliness, and a character who is so lonely she’s willing to do monstrous things to keep people around. I found that desperately sad and interesting, so I just pushed it as far as I possibly could.”
Greta is a contemporary thriller in the vein of films such as Fatal Attraction and Misery, with various twists and turns that the audience might not see coming. It is a skilfully executed psychological thriller that balances terror with elegant comedy, making it hard to resist … like an unattended bag on the subway that’s just begging for you to look inside.
Where and when: Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro cinemas from 5 July 2019