LITTLE JOE: Plants Are Smarter Than They Look

Little Joe questions how far we might conceivably go to achieve happiness and if, in pursuit of it, we should risk sacrificing the very difference that tends to define the human race

Set in the world of hothouses, genetic manipulation and mankind performing Frankensteinian acts of God, Little Joe exists at the junction of scientific innovation and crude corporate greed. What if happiness is a business you can buy into? Plant breeder Alice (Emily Beecham) turns a blind eye to botanical protocols and splices together a beautiful plant that’s intended to be a natural remedy for the blues. Nourish the flower, talk to it, take a little whiff and feel better about yourself and life in general. But is happiness worth it if it comes in the form of a stupefied grin?

No, those who inhale Little Joe’s scent do not become drooling vegetables, but this botanical twist on Invasion of the Body Snatchers leads to some unnatural behavior since the flower has developed a survival mechanism in response to its genetically engineered sterility. In short: get a dose of Joe’s pollen in your system and you unwittingly become the plant’s proxy – happy, calm, but singularly preoccupied with its shelf life and proliferation. Before long most of Alice’s co-workers are slightly whacked out and the performances are wonderfully tweaked, soaring halfway to an artificially created (and therefore uncanny) ‘cloud nine’.

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