Starring Isabelle Huppert. Rated 14A
Chloë Grace Moretz plays Frances, a listless New Yorker fresh from Boston and living in a Tribeca loft so big she can ride her bicycle through it.
The place belongs to sassy Erica (Maika Monroe), her rich bud from Smith College.
The latter appears to have majored in yoga, but there’s no mention of our protagonist’s specialty. It wasn’t cinema, because if she had seen Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher, she’d have known to stay away from Isabelle Huppert—especially when classical music and broken glass are involved.
Huppert has been playing pretty twisted characters of late, as in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle and Haneke’s Happy End.
This wasn’t lost on Irish writer-director Neil Jordan, far from his premillennial run of Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, and The End of the Affair.
He and coscripter Ray Wright came up with a seemingly apt vehicle for the eerily ageless French star, as the titular Greta Hideg, a Parisian widow full of grace, charm, and something else.
When Frances finds the older woman’s handbag on a subway from Manhattan, and returns it, she discovers a homey, if somewhat strange, corner of Brooklyn (a nifty effect heightened by shooting some scenes in Ireland, and the urban stuff in Toronto—thereby necessitating the presence of Colm Feore in a small role).
This enigmatic lady is impossibly cultured, and Frances has recently lost her mother.
Consequently, she’s deaf to Erica’s warnings and doesn’t run back to the A train when Greta hits the ol’ upright.
Liszt’s Liebestraum supplies a morbid motif, and the hint that the stylish Frenchwoman may not be what she seems.
(Another hint: Hideg means “cold” in Hungarian.)
Seriously, don’t go into her basement!
I wouldn’t give too much away, but the filmmakers and the trailer do that for themselves.
In fact, the movie’s biggest problem is that it pulls its switcheroo too soon, revealing Greta’s ill intentions just as the new relationship begins.
Jordan gestures toward kinkier, or at least campier, fare.
At one point, Greta says she’s caught in a “well of loneliness”, referring to the 1928 novel that set the tone for countless tragic lesbian tales to follow.
Alas, an intriguing art-house start yields to tired horror-thriller tropes before psychology even sets in.