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Little Joe

Jessica Hausner
Austria, UK, Germany 2019 / 100’
It Must Be Heaven Living and Knowing You're Alive

A minimalistic, deeply psychological work of science fiction by one of Europe’s most unpredictable directors. The so-called happiness flower is an experimental, genetically modified plant that, according to an ingenious biotechologist named Alice (Emily Beecham, an award winner in Cannes for her performance), is supposed to secrete oxytocin and thus induce in those looking after it a state of blissful happiness. Cultivation in the lab quickly gets out of control, however, and Joe, Alice’s son, starts treating the flower that was given to him with extraordinary care. Hausner is masterful in creating an atmosphere of overwhelming paranoia, subjectifying the narrative and producing a disturbing feeling of detachment. Martin Gschlacht’s restrained cinematography lends the whole a cool, clinical feel, which is reinforced by the piercing music of Teiji Ito. Hausner’s original, posthumanistic variation on subjects familiar to us from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Little Shop of Horrors raises questions about the ethical boundaries of science and the condition of a Western society plunged into depression and benefiting en masse from chemical mood enhancers.

Sebastian Smoliński


Cannes IFF 2019 – Best Actress

Jessica Hausner

An Austrian director and screenwriter. She has been running the coop99 production company since 1999 along with Barbara Albert, Antonin Svoboda, and Martin Gschlacht. She made her directorial debut in 2001 with the full-length feature Lovely Rita, a portrait of a young girl trapped in a complex web of family relations. Her subsequent films premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the Festival in Cannes. In 2016, Hausner became a member of the jury for that same section of the festival. Her most successful work remains Lourdes (2009), which was an award winner at festivals in Venice (FIPRESCI, SIGNIS, and a Sergio Trasatti Award), Warsaw, and during the LUX Awards, and Sweden's Guldbagge Awards. 

Selected filmography

2001 Lovely Rita

2004 Hotel

2009 Lourdes

2014 Szalona miłość / Amour fou

Cast & Crew

director Jessica Hausner
screenplay Géraldine Bajard, Jessica Hausner
cinematography Martin Gschlacht
editing Karina Ressler
music Teiji Ito
cast Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kit Connor, Lindsay Duncan, Phénix Brossard, Kerry Fox
producer Philippe Bober, Bertrand Faivre, Martin Gschlacht, Jessica Hausner, Gerardine O’Flynn, Bruno Wagner
production Coop99 Filmproduktion, The Bureau, Essential Filmproduktion GmbH
Polish distributor Against Gravity
language English
colouration colour