We’re so accustomed to stalker movies now that they can be told in shorthand. Greta is a too-efficient example of this, in addition to being a cautionary tale about why you should never do something nice for a stranger.
Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) from a screenplay credited to him and Ray Wright (The Crazies), this no-frills thriller concerns a young woman named Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) who finds a purse on the subway and returns it to its owner, Greta (Isabelle Huppert), a refined older French widow who is effusively grateful for the service. The two become friends, Frances standing in for Greta’s daughter who lives in Paris, but Frances is unnerved when she discovers that Greta has used the “lost purse” ruse before. What is she really after?
Well, Frances jumps to the conclusion that Greta is a dangerous stalker. We know this is probably true — it’s why we came to see the movie — but Frances assumes it before she’s seen any evidence beyond Greta being clingy and lonely. She calls the police when so far all Greta has done is stand outside the restaurant where Frances works. Adding more details to Greta’s fixation would have fleshed out the story, upped the film’s creepiness factor, AND given the usually rigid Huppert more opportunity to revel in playing an insane person (but I relish the moments where she does get to cut lose). The decision to rush through that part hurts the movie, which needed either more camp or more terror to really be effective. As it is, it lacks oomph until the climax, by which point the opportunity has been missed.