LITTLE JOE directed by Jessica Hausner
LITTLE JOE directed by Jessica Hausner

Film at Lincoln Center will host the complete retrospective Jessica Hausner: The Miracle Worker, November 8 to 10. 

After emerging onto the scene with her 2001 feature debut, Lovely Rita, Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner has rapidly established herself as a tirelessly inventive director who reconfigures genre codes in clever and provocative ways. Whether reimagining the thriller in the vividly atmospheric Hotel, exploring spirituality in the Tati-esque Lourdes, or darkly and humorously riffing on the period film in Amour fou, Hausner never fails to surprise and stimulate. On the occasion of the release of her latest, the meticulously composed and enthralling Frankenstein gloss Little Joe, Film at Lincoln Center presents a complete retrospective of Hausner’s oeuvre with the director herself in person.

Highlights of the retrospective include a special sneak preview of Little Joe, with Hausner and star Emily Beecham in attendance for a Q&A, as well as a number of films presented on 35mm, including Lovely Rita, a menace-tinged portrait of teenage suburban malaise; a shorts program featuring Hausner’s Locarno Festival–winning short Flora and the mid-length Inter-View, Hausner’s graduation film at the Filmacademy Vienna; and the unsettling psychological horror movie Hotel. Other standouts of the series include the video installation Toast, presented in a free loop in the Film at Lincoln Center amphitheater, and the lavish, darkly comedic costume drama Amour fou.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS

Little Joe
Jessica Hausner, Austria/UK/Germany, 2019, 105m
A gloss on Frankenstein like nothing you’ve seen before, Hausner’s funny and philosophical latest furthers her interests in genre cinema, group dynamics, and the possibility of the fantastic in an increasingly technocratic world. Emily Beecham (who was awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for this role) stars as Alice, a single mother and scientist who, along with her lab partner Chris (Ben Whishaw), is conducting a series of experiments to create a new species of plant, a crimson flower whose scent induces happiness. But, of course, their happy-making plant, nicknamed “Little Joe,” turns out to have an agenda of its own, and what had once been a potential cash cow begins to seem increasingly like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A Magnolia Pictures release.

Amour fou
Jessica Hausner, Austria/Luxembourg/Germany, 2014, 96m
German with English subtitles

Hausner’s ravishingly stylized comic portrait of the 19th-century haute bourgeoisie follows the romantic trials and tribulations of German writer Heinrich von Kleist (Christian Friedel) as he searches Berlin for that special someone with whom to enter into a double-suicide pact, eventually meeting the terminally ill Henriette Vogel (Birte Schnöink), who is quite a fan of his best-known work, the novella The Marquise of O. Hausner’s consummately realized mise en scène—an astonishing achievement of decor and costuming, at times evoking the paintings of Vermeer—and her knack for capturing the rhythms of everyday life and the humor at the heart of her ostensibly morbid subject yield a film that is moving, funny, and seriously romantic.

Hotel
Jessica Hausner, Austria/Germany, 2005, 35mm, 76m
German with English subtitles

Hausner’s second feature is an insistently unsettling, vividly atmospheric psychological horror story whose remote Alpine setting evokes its protagonist’s own sense of isolation and vulnerability. Irene (Franziska Weisz) arrives at the titular establishment to take a job as a desk attendant, only to learn that her predecessor has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Compelled to investigate the mystery, Irene finds that the other employees are unable or unwilling to answer her questions. The more she learns, the deeper her unease—and the greater her understanding that her new workplace guards secrets that might not want to be uncovered.

Lourdes
Jessica Hausner, Austria/France/Germany, 2010, 35mm, 96m
French with English subtitles

Hausner’s ironic parable contemplates grace and the miraculous with a wry sense of humor and a subtly touching humanism. Visiting the titular French town—the site for a massive annual Catholic pilgrimage—wheelchair-bound Christine (Sylvie Testud) is magically cured of her acute multiple sclerosis while in the care of nun Maria (Léa Seydoux), despite the fact that she isn’t particularly religious. Reminiscent at times of Jacques Tati’s Playtime, this frequently funny meditation on faith in the modern world finds Hausner skillfully using cinematic space and time to sympathetically send up contemporary spirituality.

Lovely Rita
Jessica Hausner, Austria/Germany, 2001, 35mm, 79m
English and German with English subtitles

In her debut feature, Jessica Hausner probes the uncanny banality of suburban malaise through the eyes of Rita, a teen girl riding sinister currents of adolescent anger and disillusionment. Consigned to the margins by both her family and her classmates, Rita broods and drifts from one rebellion to the next as the tension of her interpersonal alienation builds inexorably to a brazenly violent conclusion. Eliciting performances of casually deadpan menace from a cast of nonprofessional actors, Hausner stages an indelible parable of unflinching existential horror.
Sunday, November 10, 7:15pm

Shorts Program

Flora
Jessica Hausner, Austria, 1996, 35mm, 25m
German with English subtitles

Hausner won the “Lion of Tomorrow” prize at the 1996 Locarno Film Festival for this coming-of-age tale, which packs plenty of tender and funny moments, pop songs, and quotidian observations into 25 touching minutes.

Inter-View
Jessica Hausner, Austria, 1999, 35mm, 45m
German with English subtitles

In this mid-length film (Hausner’s graduation film at the Filmacademy Vienna), the story of a student who conducts interviews with strangers on the street is intercut with that of a young woman who sets about changing her life while contemplating the seeming impossibility of enduring happiness.

Free Amphitheater Loop

Toast
Jessica Hausner, Austria, 2006, 47m
German with English subtitles

This video installation pays unnervingly close attention to domestic routine, portraying a young woman in the kitchen methodically preparing food. This quotidian ritual slowly comes to feel like a sort of obsessive sublimation of more obscure psychic energies.

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