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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Greta movie review: twisted sisterhood

Greta red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Complete nonsense, and not in a good way, with an enraging side dish of male undercutting of women’s friendships. For a movie to be both this ludicrous and this predictable is quite an achievement.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for movies about women; love Huppert and Moretz
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, female protagonist
(learn more about this)

It’s Bitches Be Crazy, Part Enough Already. When Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz: The Miseducation of Cameron Post) finds a left-behind handbag on the New York City subway, she of course returns it to owner Greta (Isabelle Huppert: Louder Than Bombs), and the two women strike up a friendship. It goes well until Frances discovers — in a way that suggests Greta wants her to discover this, which makes no sense at all — that the older woman is a predator who is constantly leaving handbags all over the city in an attempt to lure in unsuspecting kind strangers for purposes of going absolutely apeshit on them. (Apparently it’s only young women who interest Greta, who appears to be seeking an outlet for thwarted maternal instincts. I guess anyone who returns a bag but doesn’t fit Greta’s desired profile has a lucky escape they’re never even aware of?)

Greta is a pile of completely ridiculous nonsense, and not in any good way, although Huppert’s outrageously over-the-top performance, all scenery-chewing raging stalker, implies that someone thought they were aiming for deliberate camp. There isn’t a single thing that transpires here that is in the least bit unexpected or surprising, including all the absurd plot holes that practically grant Greta magical powers to be anywhere and do anything she desires. For a movie to be both this ludicrous and this predictable at the same time is its highest achievement.

Greta Chloë Grace Moretz Isabelle Huppert

Two women preparing a meal together and enjoying each other’s company? Gotta be something hinky goin’ on…

In the hands of a filmmaker who was genuinely interested in women as people, there might have been something at least a little bit profound to be mined from this overwrought scenario… something satirical or bitter about how our culture weaponizes the kindness of women and turns it against us, perhaps. But all that is here to be uncovered — not that it’s even hidden — it a tedious male terror of the power of women’s friendships. There’s ugliness in Greta, though it’s not in Greta herself, but in how director Neil Jordan (The Brave One), who cowrote the script with Ray Wright (The Crazies), turns women against one another from a place that is typically a female refuge.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2019’s other releases.

red light 1 star

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Greta (2019) | directed by Neil Jordan
US/Can release: Mar 01 2019
UK/Ire release: Apr 18 2019

MPAA: rated R for some violence and disturbing images
BBFC: rated 15 (strong threat, violence, injury detail)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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