Like its genre cousin horror, the most compelling science-fiction narratives are ones that use the genre to interrogate contemporary societal fears and anxieties. As “Snowpiercer” did with the threat of dwindling environmental resources, or “Annihilation” did with climate change and pollution, “Little Joe” taps into fears around bio-engineering and dependance on anti-depressants. The film is written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner, a regular presence at the Cannes Film Festival. “Little Joe” stars everyone’s favorite “Paddington” cutie Ben Whishaw opposite Emily Beecham, who was honored with the Best Actress Award at Cannes. The newly released first trailer teases an unnerving premise over a backdrop of saturated colors and chilling performances.
Here’s the official synopsis: “‘Little Joe’ follows Alice (Emily Beecham), a single mother and dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. She has engineered a special crimson flower, remarkable not only for its beauty but also for its therapeutic value: if kept at the ideal temperature, fed properly and spoken to regularly, this plant makes its owner happy. Against company policy, Alice takes one home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe. They christen it ‘Little Joe.’ But as their plant grows, so too does Alice’s suspicion that her new creation may not be as harmless as its nickname suggests.”
In his review of “Little Joe” out of Cannes, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote: “Hausner is one of the few contemporary filmmakers who deserves to be thought of as Kubrick’s heir, and her control over her compositions is as commanding as ever. It’s always on the move, drifting laterally or creeping forward in to reveal all of the quotidian menace that eludes the naked eye. ‘Little Joe’ only needs a few minutes to make you terrified of a simple plant — this movie will do for greenhouses what ‘Psycho’ did for showers.”
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“Little Joe” is Hausner’s English-language debut. Her previous four features “Lovely Rita,” “Hotel,” “Lourdes,” and “Amor Fou” all premiered either at Cannes or the Venice International Film Festival.
Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing will release “Little Joe” in theaters on December 6. Check out the official trailer below.