|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||Little Joe|
|Production country:||Österreich 2019|
|Running time:||ca. 105 Min.|
|Rated:||from the age of 12 up|
Flowers make people happy. At least for a few moments. But wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a plant whose scent would give people lasting feelings of happiness? The scientist Alice (Emily Beecham) is working with her colleague (Ben Whishaw) on just such a project. The botanist has cultivated a purple flower whose scent, at ideal room temperature and with sufficient attention, would make people happy! Actually this flower is not allowed to leave the laboratory yet. But Alice secretly takes it home and gives it to her 13-year-old son Joe - in the hope that the boy will be happy again. But "Little Joe", as she named the plant, has a slightly different effect than Alice expected. And soon she must fear that she has created something that will change people forever - and not necessarily for the better...
With her English-language directorial debut "Little Joe", Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner ("Lourdes") has staged a very special mystery thriller with subtle horror elements. It is not only the design and acting of the actors that are special, with Emily Beecham in particular standing out with a reduced intensity. Also the admittedly habituation-needy music of the Japanese composer Teiji Ito, who died in 1982, underlines the very extraordinary atmosphere of the film. You have to get involved with all of this in order not to get completely annoyed after 30 minutes at the latest.
On the other hand, if you succeed in seeing and accepting these stylistic idiosyncrasies as an important part of the story, the in the best sense of the word alienating atmosphere can really unfold. In this, Hausner builds up a dramaturgy that is often reminiscent of the classic "The Demonic" and its successful remake "The Body Snatchers Are Coming" - with a pinch of "The Little Shop of Horrors". This is particularly evident in the fact that a gentle hint of irony wafts through the events again and again.
"Little Joe" is not an easy film. In every aspect it seems artificial and somehow also a bit unwieldy. Yet, Hausner just managed in this way to do what M. Night Shyamalan so brilliantly failed with his eco-thriller "The Happening": It credibly turns a plant into a threat, which somehow seems creepy to the viewer. For this alone, this audience favorite of the Fantasy Filmfest deserves a "worth seeing"!
An article by