REVIEW: Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi satirises Nazi Germany in his latest comedy-drama kitsch.

★★★★★

Following the gargantuan success of his previous directorial effort, the Marvel epic Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi returns with a more lighthearted yet emotional film. His new movie, Jojo Rabbit, is an adaptation of Christine Leunens’ novel Caging Skies.

Starring a roster of actors such as Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Stephen Merchant, Taika has meticulously selected a cast that will deliver the laughs that his script so deserves. Waititi not only wrote and directed this sweet-natured film, but he also stars as Jojo’s friendly imaginary pal, Adolf Hitler. You know, the evil führer who notoriously sent 6 million jews to their death. Definitely a role model that a ten-year-old should look up to!

When Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) discovers that his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), has been harbouring a jew within the walls of their home, he is conflicted with his own moral judgement and the views of the Nazis including his imaginary buddy. We soon discover that Rosie had lost a daughter; the reason behind the choice to secretly keep Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), the Jewish teenager, safe. The human condition draws Jojo closer to Elsa throughout. As he bonds with her via conversations through the wall, he realises that he must choose between the Nazi ideals, and his mother’s fugitive. This realisation only comes to the dismay of the Hitler inside his head.

Johansson’s portayal of Rosie Betzler is mesmerising. Here, Taika writes dialogue expertly showcasing maternal instinct. Jojo’s uncertainty between his mother’s wishes and the Nazi ideology is emphasised by the caring nature of her character and his naivety. The equilibrium of the darkness and the light lifts the film from comedy to tragedy with ease.

Jojo must bravely keep his mother’s secret, a tall task for a small boy afraid of the consequences. But after all, as Elsa says, is he really a Nazi or is he just “a ten-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club”?

At this time of political uncertainty, Waititi has reminded us that there has been worse which we have overcome, and which we can now laugh at in retrospect. His sharp, satirical script and the enthusiastic comedic performances from his stellar cast make young Jojo’s tale an enjoyable watch throughout. “Heil Taika!”

Jojo Rabbit was released in the UK on 3rd January 2020.

By Ryan Burdett

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