After making an international name for herself with films such as “Lourdes” and “Amour Fou”, Jessica Hausner directed her first English-language film, “Little Joe”, which premiered in Cannes. Today the sci-fi thriller is shown on TV for the first time.
Jessica Hausner is considered one of the few filmmakers in Austria who have made it onto the international stage. After making a name for herself with “Lovely Rita” (2001) and “Hotel” (2004), she presented all of her later films at some of the most renowned film festivals in the world – such as “Lourdes” in Venice or “Amour Fou” in Cannes. In the meantime, she is not only part of the AMPAS (Academy Of Motion Picture Art And Sciences), which is known to award the Oscars, but also shot her first English-language film with “Little Joe – Glück ist ein Handel” – which was even in the running for the 2019 Goldene Palme went, but went pretty bad at the local box office (just 4,000 people got lost in the dark at the cinema for the opening weekend).
Anyone who has missed the film on the big screen and hasn’t made it up to now in the home cinema now has the opportunity to catch up on it in a particularly convenient way: “Little Joe” celebrates its free TV premiere on arte today, May 11, 2022 (8:15 p.m.). Alternatively, the film is also available until May 17th in the station’s media library available to stream.
That’s what Little Joe is about: Happiness is a Business
Alice (Emily Beecham) loves her job in the greenhouse. Yes, in general, the single scientist lives a happy and fairly carefree life with her son Joe (Kit Connor). And then she also made a breakthrough with her research: she succeeded in creating a plant whose fragrance makes the people around her happy at the optimal room temperature. And of course, she also names the crimson cinnabar after her son: Little Joe.
Without knowing exactly what effect her creation will have on people or animals, she decides to take one of the plants home with her – with terrible consequences. Because their creation does not seem to be as harmless as originally thought…
“The body face come” meets “Black Mirror”
“The plot is easy to see through and yet someone keeps explaining something. So the production, which is strong at least in the beginning, rarely develops its full potential,” writes chief critic Christoph Petersen, among other things, in the official DashFUN review of “Little Joe”, which ended up with an average of 2.5 out of 5 possible stars.
The sci-fi thriller drama has a lot to offer, especially visually, beginning with great tracking shots and thus lives not least on Hausner’s usual strict compositional style. But the longer the film lasts, the more the seemingly diabolical flowers lose their hypnotic effect. The haunting score can at least counteract this to some extent, but in the end, it doesn’t change the fact that the content potential of the exciting idea is only rudimentarily exhausted.
Exciting themes such as toxic masculinity or happiness as the highest good in modern society are touched upon again and again but ultimately remain marginal phenomena in a story without too many surprises. So while “Little Joe” initially seems a bit like “The Body Eaters are Coming” (just with flowers), it ends up being more reminiscent of an average “Black Mirror”-Consequence.