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Movie Review

What would you do if you found someone's forgotten purse on a nearly empty subway car?

Some, like twentysomething Frankie McCullen's roommate, Erica, would rifle through the bag, snatch up loose cash and head off to a spontaneous spa day.

But Frankie? Well, she isn't that kind of person.

Frankie doesn't think twice about her roommate's selfish suggestions. Instead, she does the right thing: seeking out the purse's owner. After all, the identification card inside it makes that task easy enough. Seems the nice-looking older woman's name is Greta.

What if, however, everything isn't quite as it seems? What if the bag's owner isn't just some nice older lady who accidentally misplaced her belongings? I mean, what if the bag was purposely left on the subway? And, what if it was one of many little handbag-shaped lures, if you will, filled with precise amounts of money and personal effects cleverly designed to reel in just the right kind of person into its owner's nicely manicured fingers.

It would be an easy thing to do, really. And when the trap is sprung, the victim's life could be slowly consumed by a comfortably nibbling creature driven by psychopathic delusion.

Frankie McCullen, however, couldn't possibly perceive that any such horror hides behind the door she's about to knock on. Frankie's just doing the right thing. She's focused on being the kind of person her beloved and dearly departed mom raised her to be.

The door creaks open, and the French-accented spider sweetly beckons Frankie inside.

What would Frankie's mom think now?

Positive Elements

Frankie tries to do the right thing—even if the film perhaps suggests that doing the right thing isn't always the smart thing in our sadly broken and twisted world.

Though Frankie's ethically challenged roommate and her somewhat detached dad are both lacking a bit in the character department, they nevertheless care deeply for Frankie. And they both put themselves on the line to save her.

Spiritual Content

None.

Sexual Content

We see Erika exercising in formfitting, flesh-baring fitness wear. She also wears a few cleavage-baring and semi-transparent tops. Erika meets a cute flower-delivery guy at the front door and makes a sarcastic, suggestive comment about wanting to have a sexual encounter with him.

At one point, Frankie is naked in a bathtub with her hands chained to a bath rail (though nudity is strategically avoided by careful placement of her arms and legs).

Violent Content

We hear about one young woman who's so emotionally damaged by her mother's abusive ways that she commits suicide. Likewise, Frankie is emotionally pummeled by Greta as the older woman stalks her, verbally abuses her, spits at her, drugs her, chains her up and locks her in a small box.

There's also physical abuse in the mix, as well. Frankie gets thumped to the ground. A man is shot in the face after being injected with a narcotic of some sort (though the actual bloody death is kept just offscreen). His body is covered in lye, wrapped in a large bag and thrown down a basement staircase. We also see evidence in that darkened basement of at least one other victim who's similarly stashed there.

Greta smashes glasses and overturns a table in a restaurant. Someone gets smashed in the face with a rolling pin and has a pinky lopped off (after which we see the victim inject some painkiller into the bloody stump with a needle). A character mops up a pool of blood. Greta stabs an unsuspecting victim in the neck with a hypodermic needle.

Crude or Profane Language

A couple of s-words join two uses each of "b--ch," "h---" and "a--." God's and Jesus' names are both misused a total of 10 times (with God's name combined with "d--n" four times).

Drug and Alcohol Content

Frankie and Greta drink wine with dinner. Several restaurant scenes show patrons drinking while eating.

Greta kills a pet by putting a toxic drug in its food. She also drugs a number of humans, too, including Frankie as well as a private detective who comes looking for her. It's implied that Greta has used the narcotic substance on quite a number of helpless victims in the past.

Frankie is kept perpetually drugged for days. Greta injects herself with some kind of medication after being wounded. A character who's injected with a drug passes out.

Erika jokes about having snorted crystal meth after something surprising happens.

Other Negative Elements

Erica talks crudely about getting an asparagus-juice enema during a spa date. She also suggests that Frankie should steal and lie in a couple different situations.

Conclusion

Sometimes an actor can elevate his or her material. And French actress Isabelle Huppert does exactly that in Greta. It's an unnerving portrayal of a Brooklyn recluse and widow who has, unfortunately, gone quite off her nut.

That statement, however, isn't exactly the high praise that it might seem to be.

Huppert makes a little something out of the nothing she's given in Greta's pabulum script. But the rest of this film is so obviously telegraphed, so vacuous and unpleasant that it hardly merits being considered by any discerning moviegoer with too much time on his or her hands.

Even great acting chops can't lift this terrible parable about stalking, torture and torment much higher than … bad.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Isabelle Huppert as Greta Hideg; Chloë Grace Moretz as Frances-Frankie-McCullen; Maika Monroe as Erica Penn; Colm Feore as Chris McCullen; Zawe Ashton as Alexa Hammond

Director

Neil Jordan ( )

Distributor

Focus Features

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 1, 2019

On Video

May 28, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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