Movie Diary 7/19/2021

Little Joe (Jessica Hausner, 2019). Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but with scientists raising plants that will make people happy. Admittedly, this is up my alley, but even so it’s a striking movie, chillingly designed and spookily scored (using music by Teiji Ito). Hausner made Lourdes and Amour Fou; she is Austrian and meticulous, almost to a fault. She has a very good eye for – I don’t know how else to put this – the human, which is what the movie is about, after all, particularly as it resides in two female characters, the lead scientist (Emily Beecham), who is prickly and awkward, and a dog-loving researcher (Kerry Fox, quietly excellent), whose past history of mental illness is used against her. This is unnerving viewing, due to Hausner’s measured sense of timing and the deadpan way the action unfolds (there’s a brilliant scene where Beecham’s kid and his girlfriend seem to blurt out the whole nefarious plot, only to sarcastically take it back). With Ben Whishaw, David Wilmot, Kit Connor.