It would seem that in a post MeToo age, to make a statement about a female centric film (regardless of its genre) is to generate discussion of a lively nature from both sides of the sex divide. From feminists with their shields permanently on high-alert to whiney little men pissed at the thought of having to give up a place at the table – it seems there’s not a stance that can’t get attacked.
So, if that’s the case, this review would like to get a few things out of the way before proceeding. Wonder Woman SUUUUCKED. Based purely on storytelling that is trying to at least present something new (as well as good) it is a poorly written film – just listen to some of the dialogue, especially during the boss fight. The (now) disgraced Joss Whedon wrote a version that is easily accessible and INFINITELY better. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a better feminist take that is the Gal Gadot version (although it is, because it doesn’t disrespect WW by offering her substandard scenes and cringeworthy dialogue) but it is certainly a more compelling, wittier and all round better told adventure.
And sexual politics aside that’s what we strive to focus on here at SoH; the story. (And before you go making assumptions, The Ghostbusters remake is good. Really good. Don’t listen to the haters with their invalid “painting eyes on the Mona Lisa” bullshit. Look at it objectively as a story. It is well told and entertaining. Female cast or no female cast – end of).
Anyway… where were we? Oh yes Greta. A film set in New York with 2 female protagonists and a single female supporting cast. It’s not that there are no men in it. There’s a dad and a private eye who are dudes, and they have stuff to do, but really the meaty stuff is for the ladies.
It’s not Bechdel immune, as the young female lead in it – Frances, played by Chloe Grace Moretz – talks about her father with her best mate Erica (Maika Monroe) pretty early on, but this is after the opening of the film which has Frances finding a green handbag on the subway during her work commute (she is a waitress at a high class restaurant).
Opening up the bag she finds that it belongs to an elderly French lady named Greta, and being the good-natured soul that she is, Frances knocks on Greta’s door to return it.
Out of gratitude the older lady invites her in and soon an unlikely friendship is struck. Unlikely not because of their different ages, but because this is one of the few parts of the film that definitely feels forced. The character of Frances has recently lost her mother, but even that fact seems clumsily written as Greta soon becomes a surrogate maternal figure to the happy-to-please Frances.
But early on things get flipped when one day whilst having dinner in Greta’s house Frances finds in a cupboard (in another clunkily written scene) a number of identical green handbags each with a different young woman’s name written on them, and each with the EXACT same contents. It’s soon clear that Greta orchestrates these encounters, and that her interest in younger women lies in psychotic-ville territory.
From there what ensues is the usual cat ‘n’ mouse shenanigans associated with this sort of thriller – some executed well, others not.
Greta herself is admirably performed by veteran Isabelle Huppert – although as can almost happen every time with these sort of parts – she occasionally spills over into farce, as does the direction and the writing (seriously, leaving multiple handbags on the subway with your identity in there to entrap women? As schemes go it’s about as water tight as a colander trying to sieve lava). And one melodramatic moment involving Greta turning up to Frances’ work will hit you flush on the nose.
Yet despite all that you do want to see how it ends, and there are enough twisty moments (no matter how clumsy) to keep you engaged.
Especially the twisty twist, which is both predictable in nature, and admirable for the sheer fact it exists.
At the end of the day, Greta is a female centric horror/thriller, but is it any good? Well – as may have previously been mentioned – that depends on the quality of the story. End of.
– Antony Yee