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Neil Jordan’s work has never shied from exploring the tricky, emotionally tangled nature of companionship. From Interview With a Vampire to The Crying Game, the Irish director has made humans’ fear of isolation and desperation for connection a dramatic focal point of his films. For the Greta writer and director, it’s a theme born from his own fears.
“Well, I hate being on my own, you know?” Jordan told The Hollywood Reporter this week at a special New York screening of his new Focus Features film. “I can’t stand it.”
Neither can the leading characters of his latest project, a horror-thriller starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert that is set to hit theaters March 1. During the film, the writer-director homes in on the sweet-turned-sinister bond between two women, both of whom are grappling with loneliness in a city of millions and an era of instant, mobile socialization.
Moretz plays Frances, a young woman living and working in Manhattan. Though she rarely finds herself alone, thanks to her roommate and best friend, Frances has been quietly plagued by grief-fueled loneliness since her mother’s death. When the young woman picks up a bag left on a subway seat and decides to return it, she becomes enveloped in the solitary but warmly charming world of the older and also lonely Greta (Isabelle Huppert).
They are fast companions, filling familial-like holes in each other’s lives. But when their relationship begins to crumble, Greta reveals just how far she will go to never be alone.
“This story is like Fatal Attraction, it’s like Basic Instinct, it’s like Single White Female, but it’s not about a man and a woman,” Moretz said ahead of the film’s screening. “It’s not about this sexual, sordid relationship. It’s about this almost cosmic star-crossing of two lost souls and how you can let this darkness into your heart from loss and loneliness.”
Calling Huppert “a national treasure,” Jordan explained that he cast the French actress for her ability to play a perfectly seductive character to the film’s younger and motherless lead, Frances.
“I wanted this character to have all of this European sophistication and kind of guile,” Jordan told THR. “I wanted her to represent herself with enormous amounts of sweetness. I wanted her to seduce through the French language and with music. I wanted all these layers to obscure what eventually we find out.”
To help reinforce the believability of Frances and Greta’s up-and-down development, Moretz said they shot the film in chronological order, a decision she called “very helpful” for both her and Huppert in building their story organically for the screen.
Beyond twisting the relationship chemistry of the pic’s two leading women, Greta uses the easy, somewhat intrusive connectivity of technology to help drive the chase between them. It also relies on the contradictory nature of the city as a crowded yet quite lonely place to explore its themes of motherhood, obsession and the corrosive nature of isolation.
“I think people are lonely in the city,” said Jordan. “And the film is about isolation — about how grotesque the idea can become. We live in a world of isolation. Despite all of the social media, actually because of it in a way, because of all these ways in which we communicate looking at a phone, we get more and more isolated.”
Moretz called the film a “wild, coldly exciting thrill ride” that uses both its themes and it predominantly women-led cast to play with audiences’ expectations of the genre.
“In front of a linear conversation with Get Out, I think it’s along the same lines in that it’s a genre that we love so much,” said the actress. “It’s a story that we’ve probably heard before, but because it’s through a different lens, it feels innovative and it feels different. It is subverting a genre, turning it on its head.”
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