Movie Review: Jojo Rabbit – The Nerd Daily

It’s very likely that Taika Waititi’s name started flickering on your radar upon the release of his thundering MCU debut, Thor: Ragnorok, in 2017. His latest directorial venture has just landed and while it’s a far cry away from the superhero stylings of the Marvel Universe, Jojo Rabbit, a self-proclaimed ‘anti-hate satire’, offers up just as many laughs and a whole lot of heart.
Roman Griffin Davis stars as Jojo, a ten-year old boy living in Nazi Germany during the late stages of World War II, whom is infatuated by the Nazi regime, even hoping to become part of Hitler’s personally guard someday. Like most ten-year-olds, Jojo often confides in an imaginary friend. What makes this situation uniquely outrageous however, is that its an idealised version of the Führer himself (played by Waititi in a performance that’s as hilarious as it is unnerving) who Jojo chooses to share his thoughts and feelings with.
Our story starts with an enthusiastic Jojo embarking on a training weekend at a Hitler Youth bootcamp, alongside a handful of peers and his best pal Yorkie (Archie Yates). It’s here that we see that Jojo isn’t as confident or indeed as ruthless as he aspires to be after an incident with older members of the camp results in taunting and humiliation. It’s this event that subsequently leads to Jojo making a shocking discovery: his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), has been hiding a young Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), in their attic.
After Jojo decides to negotiate by agreeing to keep Elsa a secret in exchange for coveted information about Jews, a reluctant bond is sparked between the pair that we see gradually develop into genuine friendship. This is where the true heart of the film lies. It’s through their interactions that Jojo’s blind fanaticism slowly begins to waver, as Elsa shows him that’s he’s not the enemy, he’s not a Nazi, he’s simply ‘a kid who wants to be part of a club and likes dressing up in a funny uniform’.
While there’s not a weak link among the adult cast, it’s the kids that steal the show and truly make this film. The moments shared between Jojo and Elsa, (and, even more so, between Jojo and Yorkie) are the film at its purest. Reminding you that even in the bleakest circumstances, from a ten-year-olds perspective, they’ll always be some light shining through.

Ultimately, what Waititi has crafted here is a bright, surreal and uplifting take on a dark subject, that’s packed full of laughter and feeling. Yes, Jojo Rabbit is exceptionally funny but it’s also incredibly moving and extremely effective.

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