The fourth day of the Official Competition saw the return of Pedro Almodovar with Dolor Y Gloria and of the young Austrian director, actress and screenwriter Jessica Hausner who presented Little Joe.
With a lavish cast, Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Julieta Serrano and Leonardo Sbaraglia, Pedro Almodovar returns to the Croisette to present Dolor Y Gloria in competition with the story of a renowned filmmaker, Salvador Mallo, out of inspiration who is looking over his shoulder. Depressed by the passing of time, when the Cinematheque pays homage to him by projecting the restored version of the first film that made him famous, Salvador decides to get in touch again with the main actor of this film, with whom he has been at odds thirty years ago to try to reconcile with his past.
Little Joe, barking up the wrong genetic modifications
Imagine that the science creates via genetic modification a plant, well, rather a stem in pot, without leaf, supporting a vermilion red tufts flower that would love sweet words, heat, regular watering. The plant would return you all these benefactions all these benefits by spreading through its blooming red blossom a perfume that makes you happy by releasing oxytocin, the hormone of motherhood… This is what Alice, plant breeding scientist at Planthouse, believes to have lovingly conceived. A single mother, Alice (Emily Beecham) devotes all her time to the glassy, filtered and sterilized greenhouse world to her flower, and only sees her son in the evening to share ready-made dishes.
Invisible roots of evil
Alice offers one of these flowers to Joe, her teenage son (Kit Connor), thus deciding to name it Little Joe. But for its creation, Alice used a new, still-not-very-known virus, the Virus R, to manipulate the floral genes. And, as the plant grows, the behaviors of his son and her professional entourage change worryingly. Alice is seized with doubts about her creation: the unknown virus is ultimately not so harmless and could cause changes in the brains of humans who breathe its pollen. But, the plant changes people without changing them, we do not notice anything except that they seem emptied of themselves.
Bad seeds, the GMOs?
In a refined staging, saturated pastel colors, graphic scenes, the anxiety slowly rises, underlined by Teiji Ito’s experimental music. Does the plant, designed sterile, want to reproduce itself in humans through a brainwashing in a “body snatcher” way?
Little Joe evokes both the anxieties of a mother who consults a shrink to ease her guilt of prefering her floral creation to her child and the “Frankenstein” side of the science of genetic manipulation, as we mistrust the GMO uncontrollable monsters that it could engender.
An Austrian-German-British film, Little Joe signs Jessica Hausner’s fifth participation in Cannes. She presented Inter-view in 1999 (Cinéfondation), and three films in Un Certain Regard: Lovely Rita (2001), Hotel (2004) and Crazy Love (2014).
The Festival is on YesICannes.com: yesicannes.com/category/festival-de-cannes
The Red Carpet of Dolor Y Gloria in pictures
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