• Name: Little Joe
• Year: 2019
• Country: UK, Austria, Germany
• Director: Jessica Hausner
• Main cast: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor
• Runtime: 105 minutes
• Production company: Coop99 Filmproduktion, The Bureau, Essential Filmproduktion GmbH
As a promise for a simple, minimalistic and with a sweet touch science-fiction film, Little Joe (2019) was one of those titles I firmly wanted to see this year. Since its inception, the movie called my attention for its romantic and well-intentioned start point; a group of scientists creates a new flower in which pollen can bring humans into a state of happiness. I knew the movie wouldn’t go heavy into the paths of horror, but the idea sounded interesting enough, even like one could wish that flower existed in real life, especially in these current times we are living where everybody is alienated into our own miseries and the concept of “happiness” seems to be exclusively reachable by little kids or dogs.
Co-written and directed by Austria-born filmmaker Jessica Hausner, Little Joe (2019) can be interpreted as a new turn into the Body Snatchers story. Only this time is not an alien invasion replacing the world population into soulless flesh and bones walking and talking zombies, but a plant that in order to survive decides to take over our minds. And the deal works, technically, since the individuals seem to be happier. That is the most interesting point of the movie, what makes us happy? If we focus on the good things, take always the wisest decisions, and reject to get controlled by our problems and fears, then we can achieve this yearned state of happiness. But, yet, then we are not ourselves anymore.
Despite the attractive plot, I felt Little Joe (2019) has a few weaknesses, especially when it comes to the script. The story is dynamic, and it never gets boring, but some of the things happening are just silly. It is a pity that a movie so visually beautiful, with such a pure background, has so many not well-resolved stages. I am not aware if it was the case, but I had the feeling there were a few moments that the filmmakers just didn’t know how to solve. And those were some of the key events of the movie.
Still, I think the good intentions of Little Joe (2019) prevail over the final result. The movie was made with love, without big intellectual pretensions, it’s not trying to sermon us or change the world, it’s just a piece of entertainment that might make you think a little. The sober of the images brings lots of calm, the pace of the action never gets the audience overexcited, and the strange music creates that little tension that works fine in those key moments when the script falls short. It is like meditating sitting at the shore, feeling the sea breeze on your face and hair, listening to the sound of the waves. Little Joe (2019) has many ingredients to become a memorable science-fiction film, but some unforgettable deficiencies avoid the set to finally blast.
Do we really want to be happy? Are we humans built to be just happy? Or are we so addicted to our everyday stress, pain and personal chaos that we prefer to remain suffering in order to keep our self-nature? Personally, I wouldn’t know what to choose. There is a popular saying that claims only dumb people can be totally happy. I pretty much agree with it. Maybe you can watch Little Joe (2019) and decide your own position in this dilemma.
IMDB URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt9204204
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