Plants – they make us calm and happy, but what if they were to make us permanently happy? What if they took over the world in the most peaceful and unthreatening way, unlike Audrey II of Little Shop of Horrors? Well, that’s the premise in a nutshell of Jessica Hausner’s latest film, LITTLE JOE.
Let’s get to the plot of this film, shall we? LITTLE JOE is about a single mother named Alice (Emily Beecham) who’s a dedicated plant breeder that engineered a special crimson flower. If the flower is kept at an ideal temperature, fed properly, and spoken to on a daily basis, this little one will make the owner happy. One day, Alice decides to illegally bring one home to her son Joe (Phenix Brossard) as a gift. Day by day, ever since the flower came home, Joe begins to act stranger and stranger.
This entire movie is a kind of slow-burn but I think director Jessica Hauser, who also co-wrote the film with Geraldine Bajard, did a fine job with the tone while not making it an over-the-top suspense thriller. The movie is pretty British, but that’s definitely not a bad thing at all. It also co-stars Ben Whishaw as one of Alice’s co-workers at the corporation where they work who also has a thing for Alice. The movie doesn’t spend too much time with their relationship as it mainly focuses on the flower’s side effects. Now, nothing creeps me out more than creepy kids, and that is exemplified after Joe is taken over by the pollen from the flower. We learn that after he creepily takes a girl he likes to the facility, the pollen in the flowers is slowly infection people and basically trying to take over the world one human at a time.
LITTLE JOE is a rather subtle science-fiction drama that definitely plays like an episode of Black Mirror. The performances were good, and though the pacing was a tiny bit too slow for my taste, I still thought it was an interesting piece of film. My only complaint is they could’ve shaved off maybe 10 minutes from the 105-minute run-time. But what do I know? This was a film that was selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival, nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or and won the Best Actress nomination for Emily Beecham. All that said, even though LITTLE JOE is a good flick, it’s better suited as a VOD movie. LITTLE JOE opens in theaters December 6, 2019.