Ben Oliver

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Little Joe

It’s like being dead. You don’t notice you’re dead, do you?
18 February 2024

A plant breeder (Emily Beecham) creates a plant that is supposed to make people happy. Soon she begins to fear what she has made.

It’s hard to resist the strange tone and set design here. The characters inhabit a pastel world slightly parallel to ours, a world where you get Marmite on the table instead of ketchup (not a key plot point). Everywhere is cold and immaculate and reflects the lab environment the plants are grown in.

This then translates to the performances, which are kept very neutral almost the whole way through. It’s eerie at first then tiring and perhaps a little dull. There are echoes of a Lanthimos film here again, much like Fingernails1, and also like that film it doesn’t quite do enough to keep you interested.

I guess mostly it’s a parable on the dangers of drugs and perhaps anti-depressants. If it’s meant to be the latter it’s a bit of an un-called-for low blow to people just trying to get by in life, but perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

Little Joe shows some real directorial flair combined with a really unsettling premise and use of sound, and even though it doesn’t quite deliver it’s just about worth the price of entry.

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