A while back now, Will Ferrel and Kristen Wiig made a Lifetime move called A Deadly Adoption. It was a hilarious in-joke about some of the troupes of this unique genre. Greta plays in a similar fashion but without the knowing wink or humor. The film asks the question, can legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert elevate the formula? The answer is sadly no.
Greta has a lot going for it. Director Neil Jordan has made some interesting thrillers before such as In Dreams, The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire. Huppert rarely gives a bad performance, usually elevating pulpy material with her incredible energy. Chloe Grace Moretz has had an erratic career but can shine in the right part. None of them bring their A-game to Greta.
The film is set in a version of New York that only exists in movies. A young waitress named Frances (Moretz) and her best friend, Erica (Maika Monroe) own an incredible apartment that they could never afford in real life. On the way home from a shift, Frances finds a purse on the subway and decides to return it to the owner. Greta is a reclusive widow who, at first, acts a a stand-in for Frances' mother who passed away recently. Frances becomes entangled in Greta's life for a bit until Erica wises up and realizes something is off. Soon Greta reveals that she is clingy to a degree that borders on psychopathic.
Greta has a fine setup, one that echoes Jordan's love of fairytales. As the film progresses, it becomes increasingly predictable. The film begs for something crazy to happen and yet Jordan keeps things pretty standard. This is where the Lifetime film comparison applies. The dialogue is also unpolished and often laughable. The screenplay never crackles or surprises and the two leads don't have enough chemistry to carry it.
Huppert is clearly trying to have a good time with the role and occasionally she pulls off a memorable scene or two. One seen at the restaurant Frances works at manages to hit the crazed pitch the movie begs for. Moretz is dull here, mostly due to the script. Greta needs to be more bonkers and shocking to make an impact.