‘Little Joe’ Director Jessica Hausner on Combining Genres and Maintaining a Personal Stamp [Interview]

/Film | 12/6/2019 | Marshall Shaffer
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Whither David Fincher? Make room, Paul Thomas Anderson? There’s a (somewhat) new filmmaker on the world stage, Austrian writer/director Jessica Hausner, drawing comparisons to Stanley Kubrick. Her latest film, Little Joe, might be tough to categorize as it incorporates elements from genres like sci-fi and horror while also maintaining an auteurist stamp. But one thing that’s never in doubt is her command of the medium and her control of the story.

The plot itself may sound familiar: a working single mother, Emily Beecham’s Alice, feels torn between duties to her teenage son and her laboratory work. As a plant breeder, she’s on the cusp of a breakthrough on engineering a plant that can chemically induce happiness in its owner. However, her creation might be altering people in a more insidious and imperceptible way à la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Where the film really excels is in her execution, which is both impressive and eerie in its remarkable precision.

Occasion - Career - Retrospective - New - York

Upon the occasion of a career retrospective at New York’s Film at Lincoln Center, I sat down with Hausner to discuss her exacting visuals and methodical approach to filmmaking.

Little Joe has elements of sci-fi, horror, thriller, fairy tale, parable. Is there any one thing or way you’d describe the movie as? Or is the fluidity of genre the point?

Part - Genre - Film - Genres - Half

I would say there is a large part of genre film in it. The other genres you mentioned are maybe the other half. You could also say it is half genre film and half auteur film.

You’ve mentioned that you’re fascinated by “the fact that science doesn’t provide absolute truth,” which I think is a good point to raise given that scientific principles are still subject to the limitations of the human mind. Even things that we think of as settled science like gravity have changed...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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