A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Greta is a Neil Jordan-directed thriller about a young woman named Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) who befriends the title character (Isabelle Huppert) -- who turns out to be a psychopathic stalker. Violence is the biggest concern and can be quite graphic: There's a severed finger, bashing with blunt objects, injections/drugged characters, guns/shooting, dead people (and a dead dog), a nightmare sequence, and jump scares. A young woman is shown naked in the bathtub, but nothing sensitive is seen. Somewhat infrequent language includes uses of "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "hell," and "goddamn." Characters drink socially: wine with dinner and cocktails in a nightclub. The material is pretty routine, but the fine direction and performances make it worth a look for mature viewers.
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What's the story?
In GRETA, Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a kind young woman who's trying to make a go of it in New York after her mother's recent death. She's working as a server in a restaurant and rooming with her friend Erica (Maika Monroe). On the subway, Frances finds a purse, and -- too nice to discard it and steal the money inside -- she decides to return it to the address on the driver's license inside. A grateful Greta (Isabelle Huppert) comes to the door and invites Frances inside. Greta seems lonely, too, and Frances offers to help her adopt a dog. The women begin seeing more of each other, until Frances discovers an alarming secret in Greta's home. She tries to cut Greta out of her life but quickly discovers that Greta isn't so easily brushed off. Before long, things take a very dark turn.
Is it any good?
This thriller is cut from the same cloth as a dozen other psychopathic stalker movies, but director Neil Jordan's sure, insightful touch and the solid lead performances make it briskly entertaining. An intelligent, skilled storyteller, Jordan sometimes aims higher with his films (The Crying Game, Michael Collins, etc.), but he doesn't shy away from genre films like Greta. He embraces the silliness but also avoids going over the top. He establishes a New York that's neither bustling nor noisy, finding quiet spaces where loneliness sprouts. This quietness helps enrich the characters, as well as enhance the suspense.
The movie sometimes resorts to lazy genre shortcuts, such as the stalker character seemingly being able to know where everyone is at all times and able to sneak up on anyone from any distance. But the movie generates enough goodwill to get by. Best of all are the performances. Moretz is instantly appealing with her deep sadness and kindness, and Monroe's character is surprisingly nuanced as well. But this is Huppert's film; she's played dark characters before (Merci pour le Chocolat, The Piano Teacher, Elle), and she revisits that scary place with similarly bracing results. All of this helps elevate Greta and makes it worth seeing.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is Frances' act of kindness rewarded? What does the movie have to say about kindness and trust? Is it a positive or negative message?
What's the appeal of movies about psychopaths and stalkers? How does Greta compare to others you've seen?
Have you ever felt lonely or had a friendship where one person was more assertive than the other? How did it turn out? What was learned?
- In theaters: March 1, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: May 28, 2019
- Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Isabelle Huppert, Maika Monroe
- Director: Neil Jordan
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence and disturbing images
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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