(From L-R): Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, and Writer/Director Taika Waititi on the set of WW2 satire, JOJO RABBIT. Photo by Kimberley French. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
“Jojo Rabbit” is a 2019 film written and directed by Taika Waititi about a young German boy who has dreams of becoming a Nazi. It was adapted from “Caging Skies,” a book by Christine Leunen.
In the film, Waititi portrays an imagined version of Hitler, from the perspective of the titular Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis.) Given his surroundings and upbringing, Jojo’s imagination of Hitler is a jovial type who is always fun to be around. It’s an interesting dynamic that Waititi plays with throughout the film.
Davis gives a great performance that is full of poise. It will be interesting to see what he does next, if anything.
Scarlett Johansson is also great here, which isn’t really surprising at this point. Her performance is understated compared to other roles she’s had, but she brings so much to her character Rosie, Jojo’s mother.
Her presence is felt throughout the film and her actions loom large; mainly, the fact that she is hiding a Jewish girl in her attic.
It’s with her performance that I struggle to call this film a comedy. I believe that it is a comedy, but there are definitely some darker moments that paint this comedy red.
The film made me consider that comedy is more of a tone than simply trying to make people laugh. Meaning that Taika Waititi can play Hitler and not really be taken seriously, while at the same time, Jojo can be seen writing a very wrong book about his perception of Jewish people.
Speaking of which, Thomasin McKenzie, who plays a Jewish girl named Elsa, is a scene-stealer here.
She steals every one that she’s in, even when it’s a top-tier talent across from her. I hope that her next project is cheerier. Either way, she gives a very nuanced performance that is quiet but unrestrained.
The theme of blind fanaticism is one of the bigger takeaways from the film for me. The way that Waititi plays with this idea through a young boy’s imagining of Hitler is sort of genius to me. It also fits his style of filmmaking. He makes comedic films that have a lot of heart, which again speaks to comedy as a tone and not as a “laugh counter.”
Honestly, this movie probably won’t make you laugh a ton, but you’ll laugh a little, I think. This movie will also make you think about perspective though, which is the biggest strength of the film.
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