We buy one another flowers for all sorts of reasons. They can be a symbol of love on Valentine’s Day, an opening gift on a first date, or a way of showing sympathy for someone who is grieving. Now imagine if there was a flower that could literally cure depression? How much would ProFlowers upcharge your ass for those? The new film Little Joe imagines that such flowers exist, but as you probably guessed the bloom comes off the rose pretty quickly.
Little Joe stars Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw as plant breeders who develop this new strain of flower that guarantees to make the owner happy. What looks to be a tremendous scientific breakthrough soon gives way to something ominous, because damn if we have anything good in this world.
The film marks the English-language debut of Austrian director Jessica Hausner, and made quite a splash at Cannes where it competed for the Palme d’Or and won Beecham the Best Actress Award. The color schemes are beautiful but also slightly off, like a wildflower plucked before its time. The tone reminds me of Gremlins for some reason. Maybe it’s the whole taking care of the plant OR ELSE thing it has going on, but I dig it.
SYNOPSIS: Alice (Emily Beecham) is a single mother and dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. With the help of her colleague Chris (Ben Whishaw), Alice 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 a plant 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.
Little Joe opens on December 6th.