Little Joe Review

This first English-language film from acclaimed Austrian director Jessica Hausner reads like a fresh and wickedly smart riff on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers story. 

Daphne (2017) star Emily Beecham won the best actress prize at Cannes in 2019 for her impeccable depiction of Alice, a single mother working as a scientist at a lab engaged in developing new plant species. 

After engineering a new flower which appears to have therapeutic qualities, Alice takes one home as a gift for her son Joe (Kit Connor) who christens it ‘Little Joe’. As the flower grows, Alice starts to suspect that her new creation may not be as innocuous as first thought. 

Ben Whishaw is tremendous as Alice’s besotted and decidedly creepy colleague Chris, while Kerry Fox shines as a troubled scientist who finds herself on the receiving end of a disturbing New World Order.

Hausner and co-writer Géraldine Bajard present a nightmare in pastel colours in this breathtaking modern sci-fi. The film relies heavily on its minimalistic aesthetic to tell an inspired story about workplace politics.

This review first appeared in print in The Daily Mirror on the 21/02/20


The Call of The Wild Review

This fabulous adaptation of Jack London’s 1903 novel of the same name features some less than perfectly rendered CGI canines, but still succeeds in being one of the most uplifting films of the year so far. 

It tells the story of Buck, a pampered St. Bernard Collie who’s abducted from his home in California and transplanted to the Yukon territories of Alaska during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890s. He is later sold to amiable French-Canadian mail worker Perrault (Omar Sy) who puts him to work pulling his sled. We follow Buck as he embraces his inner adventurer all the while attempting to be the best friend he can be to Harrison Ford’s taciturn grieving loner John Thornton.

This heartwarming tale is the first live action film from Lilo & Stitch Director Chris Sanders. He and writer Michael Green present an engaging adaptation that’s elevated by Ford’s wonderfully understated turn. Elsewhere, Downton’s Dan Stevens is exquisite as unhinged adventurer Hal. 

All in all, this shaggy-dog story is worth every minute of your time. 

This review was first published in print in The Daily Mirror on 21/02/20