Movie review: ‘Greta’

Brad Keefe

As a fan of both fine cinema and trashy thrillers, Neil Jordan’s “Greta” holds enough promise for me in both categories.

In this regard, it becomes the wrong kind of roller coaster ride, alternately entertaining and disappointing.

I’d say it was extra disappointing coming from a former Oscar-winning director (for 1992’s “The Crying Game”), but the Oscars went the extra “Green Mile” to disappoint this year.

The acting talent involved in “Greta” adds to both its appeal and letdown as well.

Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a young woman living in a New York City loft with her friend, Erica (Maika Monroe of “It Follows”).

She works as a server at a fine-dining restaurant, but for once, at least, the impossibly nice NYC apartment is explained in the plot. (It’s a graduation gift from Erica’s father.)

One evening after work, Frances finds a purse on the subway. Ignoring her friend’s warnings, Frances decides to seek out the owner to return it, explaining that’s what people do where she’s from (the, uh, small town of Boston?).

The address on the enclosed ID leads her to Greta (Isabelle Huppert), an older French piano teacher who lives alone.

Frances and Greta strike up a friendship, partly a surrogacy for Frances’ own recently deceased mother.

But Frances’ relationship with the seemingly kindly if eccentric Greta soon takes a turn for the sinister. And when I say soon, I mean in the first 30 minutes.

Jordan is a director still best known for “The Crying Game,” a film with the kind of singular plot twist that couldn’t possibly stay a secret for audiences for more than a weekend in the current social media climate.

“Greta” turns things upside-down more than once, which can be fun when it’s earned — even if it’s more than a little Lifetime movie, at times.

It’s helped immensely by Huppert, who really leans into the daffy during a third act that nearly makes the whole thing worthwhile.

But the script (co-written by Jordan) is built so much around its twists that it glosses over some glaringly preposterous moments and unintentionally laughable dialogue.

Moretz and especially Monroe bear the brunt of dialogue that is often a laughable caricature of how an older man thinks young women speak and think.

“Greta” would have been greatly improved if they’d had the capacity to say to their director, “Yeah, we would never say this.”

There are enough gasps and laughs (intended and otherwise) to make “Greta” a reasonable diversion, but it could have used either more art or more cheese.

Opens Thursday

2 stars out of 5