GRETA: I believe it was Napoleon Bonaparte who observed that there’s only a single step from the sublime to the ridiculous. In a nutshell, that pretty much sums up the crucial flaw in this movie psychodrama about an unlikely friendship that initially develops between a young woman (Chloe Grace Moretz) new to New York City still mourning the death of her mother and a lonely, seemingly kind widow (Isabelle Huppert) who turns out to be stark raving crazy. The screenplay from both director Neil Jordan (THE CRYING GAME) and Ray Wright is the kind of “relationship gone really bad” storyline lifted from FATAL ATTRACTION (1987) which was lifted from PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971). The early scenes after Moretz (KICK ASS) discovers that her new found friend isn’t what she appears to be have an effective creepiness about them that leave one anticipating a slow, tension generating build-up to an unsettling conclusion. But that scenario goes completely out the French windows when Huppert (See CLOSING CREDITS.) stages a meltdown in the object of her affections’ place of employment that kills the film’s fear factor and had me wondering why a graduate of elite Smith College can’t do better than being a server at a posh restaurant. This is compounded by a following sequence where the victim inexplicably reaches out to her attacker venturing into the clichéd territory of stupid things people do to put themselves in harm’s way in a psychological thriller. After that, the only real pleasure in this is seeing how far an internationally acclaimed actress like Huppert can stretch the limits of her character’s insanity which after awhile takes on the air of “slumming” in an American production. Even the Jordanesque (The filmmaker, not the basketball player.) “twist”, which I won’t reveal for the benefit of cinematic masochists, is only surprising owing to its’ implausibility. Cliches, like the “it was all a dream” motifs, abound in this narrative which has a climax that comes way too early leaving viewers awash in disappointment except for the ones who brought their low expectations of this work to begin with. CRITIC’S GRADE: C
CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some way better films that need to be discovered to better appreciate the talents of European actress Isabelle Huppert – GOING PLACES (1974), LOULOU (1980), COUP de TORCHON (1981), ENTRE-NOUS (1983), THE BEDROOM WINDOW (1987), THE STORY OF WOMEN (1988), THE SEPARATION (1994), LA CEREMONIE (1995), THE SWINDLE (1997), THE PIANO TEACHER (2001), COMEDY OF POWER (2006), PRIVATE PROPERTY (2007), AMOUR (2012), ELLE (2016)*, THINGS TO COME (2016)
*Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress
Huppert has been nominated 16 times for the Cesar Award which is the French equivalent of the Oscars and is the most nominations ever for an actress in that country. She won twice.