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CULTURE

New Female Thriller Movie From Director of ‘The Crying Game’ Comes With a Twist

The new film Greta is a stalker thriller with an all-female lead cast from the director of The Crying Game and Interview With the Vampire.

The new film Greta treads familiar territory as a stalker film, but is its gender twist truly revolutionary? Both star Chloë Grace Moretz and writer-director Neil Jordan think the twist is plenty. In the film, opening this month, a stalker targets a young woman (Moretz’s Frances) and grows more increasingly threatening as the story goes on.

But as Moretz explains, this film deviates from typical genre fare: not only is the titular stalker a female, but she’s an older woman—played by 65-year-old Elle Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert.

Additionally, the third lead in the film, Frances’ best friend Erica (Maika Monroe), is also female. There are no major male characters.

Greta Has an Old Plot but with Different Casting

“I, of course, loved the idea of the film, I loved how it harkened back to Basic Instinct or Fatal Attraction,” Moretz (Kick-Ass, Carrie) told Yahoo Entertainment at the film’s Los Angeles press day. “But it subverts the tropes of the genre by casting Isabelle Huppert instead of Anthony Hopkins.”

“It was three women at the helm that took an attainable, exciting story we have all seen and loved—as Get Out did—and it subverts the genre by casting a completely different lens and perspective,” Moretz explained. “And I think that was an opportunity which I didn’t want to miss.”

Greta’s Director Explains the Plot

Director Neil Jordan is an Irish filmmaker best known for such acclaimed films as The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire. Never directing a bona fide thriller before, Jordan signed on as director and co-writer after an early script by Ray Wright.

“It’s a genre I’ve never approached before, I never thought I would,” he said. “It moved through territory that was familiar to me, perhaps familiar to audiences as well—maybe a little bit over-familiar. But at the center of it there was the possibility for me of constructing this dark fairy tale.

“There was the absolutely intriguing possibility of creating a monster out of this sophisticated female. Normally, in these stalker movies the invasive threat is a man,” he added.

How Does Greta Compare with Other Similar Films?

Are the star and director correct in their assessment? Yahoo Entertainment did draw comparisons to another female-led stalker thriller, 1992’s Single White Female. There was also a more similar plot in 2006’s Notes on a Scandal, that involved an older woman (Judi Dench) who obsesses over a much younger colleague (Cate Blanchett). The acclaimed film went on to be nominated for four Oscars, including for acting from the two actresses.

Although it’s commendable for a film to feature more female characters, some observers may think it’s dubious to praise a movie that centers on antagonistic behavior, simply because it’s a woman.

One comment on the message boards of Yahoo Entertainment said: “’Normally it’s a man….’ Gee, the last part of the sentence doesn’t sound sexist or anything. Also the social justice warrior crowd will give a female stalker a free pass since she isn’t a heterosexual male.”

Does Greta Matter for Gender Representation?

However, some may argue that it’s just a film and that movies are simply an escape—not to be taken so seriously. Recent controversies sprouted up last year involving the decidedly politically incorrect lyrics of holiday song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in the age of #metoo, for instance. In response to that outrage, many people expressed annoyance, claiming it was a harmless song that was flirtatious at best or simply a product of its cultural era at worst. The same occurred with the classic holiday film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with charges of its promoting discrimination and bullying.

As representation and accountability start to shift in our culture, branching out to mediums such as film, we will simply have to learn in real time. Progress, like everything in life, is not immune to controversy and uncertainty.

Greta held its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018. It was released on March 1, 2019, in the United States by Focus Features.

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