In Neil Jordan's Greta, Chloë Grace Moretz plays Frances, a recent transplant to New York City who is grieving the death of her mother and perhaps unconsciously seeking an emotional bond with a surrogate maternal figure. Enter Isabelle Huppert, Queen of France, who plays the titular Greta—a lonely widow with shiny black fingernails filed into points, a habit of leaving stylish leather purses on the subway, and a daughter-shaped hole in her heart.
There are a few aspects of Greta I enjoyed, from Huppert’s chilling performance to images of her perfectly manicured nails flittering across piano keys to the film’s grim fairytale feeling. I also appreciated how realistically it portrays law enforcement’s uselessness when it comes to protecting victims of stalking, along with the horror of having one's boundaries repeatedly violated. And the way the film uses iPhones as mediums for terror is alternately very real—particularly with how they make us perpetually “available”—and very dumb, since the suspense of receiving texts doesn’t really translate onscreen.
Greta is billed as a “twisted little thriller,” if you don’t take it seriously, it’s 98 minutes of campy fun riffing on the trope that naïve newcomers will get “eaten alive” by New York City. But under closer examination, it’s just another example of a harmful narrative in which young women are violently punished for trusting a stranger. I think we see enough of that in real life.