To kick off our Jessica Hausner retrospective this past weekend, the director was joined by star Emily Beecham for a sneak preview of Little Joe. Check out photos in the gallery above.
A gloss on Frankenstein like nothing you’ve seen before, Hausner’s funny and philosophical latest furthers her interests in genre cinema, group dynamics, and the possibility of the fantastic in an increasingly technocratic world. Beecham (who was awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for this role) stars as Alice, a single mother and scientist who, along with her lab partner Chris (Ben Whishaw), is conducting a series of experiments to create a new species of plant, a crimson flower whose scent induces happiness. But, of course, their happy-making plant, nicknamed “Little Joe,” turns out to have an agenda of its own, and what had once been a potential cash cow begins to seem increasingly like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
“I have always created very artificial worlds in my films. With Little Joe, it’s maybe even more artificial,” Hausner told us last week. “It’s nearly a surrealist world. All the colors and settings are surrealist. The initial idea of the film was to make a film like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but to focus on the first half of those films. Because in the beginning of all of those films, they all seem to have the same issues. It’s always about someone who has been changed. I love horror films and sci-fi films, but most of the time I’m very disappointed when you get the answer—when you reach that point in the story where, oh yes, there are pods from outer space and they breed human beings or whatever explanations you get in those films; for me, that’s the end of the suspense. So I tried to make a film where we hold that suspense until the very end. It goes back and forth between asking who has been changed, has anyone been changed, and what does that change mean? The reason is of course—again, like in Amour fou and in Lourdes—always about questioning this other human being you think you know, you think you love, and then you find out maybe that’s not at all the person you thought he or she would be.”