Hilary Duff delivers the most unexpected performance of her career as Greta, a rebellious 17 year old ‘exiled’ for the summer to a sleepy Jersey shore community where she immediately informs her grandparents of her plans to kill herself by the time she turns 18. But before Greta can cross suicide off her ‘to-do’ list, she’ll begin an interracial romance with a young cook from a troubled background confront a tragic family secret and maybe even discover the promising young woman beneath her sarcastic shell. Just when Greta’s looking for a way out, will life find a way back in?
Many movies explore the difficulties of growing up, but few are as powerful and as moving as According to Greta
. Hilary Duff is impressively strong as the title character, a 17-year-old who's trying to figure out who she wants to be, or if she wants to be, while grappling with an overwhelming sense of inadequacy and a rocky family life. Her mother (Melissa Leo) has had multiple husbands, and her father, whom she doesn't remember, committed suicide when she was very young. Greta's mother doesn't know what to do with her and wants to work on saving her third marriage, so she ships Greta off to stay with her Gram (Ellen Burstyn) and Gramps (Michael Murphy) in the sleepy retirement town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, for the summer. Greta is angry, resentful, and spiteful, and she makes no secret of exactly how she's feeling. She views her imprisonment in the town as a death sentence, and it may literally be. In her journal, Greta keeps two lists: one of things she wants to do before she dies and one of suicide methods. Greta's grandparents both try, in their own ways, to get through to their granddaughter, but she is depressed, determined to push others away, and obstinately obnoxious. Greta meets Julie (Evan Ross), an African-American teenager who was once in juvenile detention is now a line cook with dreams of becoming a chef, and the two are extremely attracted to one another. Julie is wise beyond his years, having learned not only to accept responsibility for his own actions, but to act in a manner that will consistently further his ambitions. Just when it appears that Greta's relationship with Julie may inspire some maturation on her part, Greta does something that will heavily impact the lives of everyone close to her. Will she get a chance to realize that her actions dramatically affect the people around her and that age and experience bring valuable perspective? Few movies have the guts and insight to tackle teen suicide in a way that so realistically captures the intense emotional struggle involved in growing up and learning to respect and love oneself. Both teens and adults should make a point of seeing According to Greta
. --Tami Horiuchi
Stills from According to Greta (Click for larger image)