Jojo Rabbit is directed by Taikia Waititi and it is based off a book titled Chasing Skies written by Christine Leunens. It revolves around Jojo, a young Hitler fanatic who finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house. The movie stars Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen and Taika Waititi.
Let me start by explaining the title of this review. I call Jojo Rabbit a dystopian movie from the past. Obviously, World War II did actually happen, it’s not fictional but the movie acts like a dystopian picture in the sense that it’s reminding us how horrible war is and how easily it can be prevented if we could just be kind to each other. It also ridicules the absurd psyche of a Nazi and it does so through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy whose imaginary friend is Hitler with the twist being that it’s exactly what a ten-year-old boy would think Hitler would act like. Only when he finds this Jewish girl living in his house, they form a connection and he starts to question his beliefs. This movie is a comedy of sorts, they are definitely scenes where it made me laugh but I’d say the strongest aspect of Jojo Rabbit is its heart and message.
Jojo Rabbit balances heart, comedy and tragedy beautifully in a movie that by the end made me feel grateful for life. Its message of tearing hate apart through understanding and kindness is a message we desperately need in today’s world and for that reason, it resonated with me more than most of the movies that I’ve seen the past year. Fun fact about me, I absolutely hate war movies. I have nothing against them but seeing something so brutal and upsetting and realizing it actually happened because of bigotry and hate, it reminds me of modern times and I’d rather not go to that place. I am actually having the worst time trying to convince myself to go watch 1917. My point is that I watched Jojo Rabbit through a different lens than most did. For the majority of the movie I kept thinking about modern times and how even though we are in a far better place, we still haven’t evolved that much.
The movie benefits from an amazing cast. Newcomer Roman Griffin Davis is outstanding and I can’t wait to see what he does next. It’s actually insane how many great child actors have turned up this last decade. Another great example of this Archie Yates who is a scene-stealing, hilarious gem of a guy who I really hope gets a part in the next Thor movies. Taikia, looking at you. Scarlett Johansson delivers another amazing performance this year along with her performance in Marriage Story and I think she really does deserve the dual nomination. She was fantastic. Thomasin McKenzie also provided a very mature performance with tons of charisma. Rebel Wilson was hilarious as usual but joining her this time are Sam Rockwell and Alfie Allen who get a lot of shining moments here and there, Rockwell especially in a scene near the end. Stephen Merchant gets a chilling scene to dominate and really does the utmost with the little time he’s on-screen, he definitely makes an impact.
Apart from fantastic acting and a great message, Jojo Rabbit benefits from some truly striking imagery which stuck in my head long after the movie ended. A specific shot though, you’ll know it when you see it really blew me away because of how it was foreshadowed multiple times, I kept thinking ‘that’s an interesting way to film that character’s scenes and when the shot came up and it all came flooding back and it hit me. It’s honestly one of the most effective shots of the year. Apart from being shot beautifully, the movie looks great. Germany is presented in a very colourful way, Waititi said in an interview that Germany was very interested in the latest trends and was very colourful and it really came across that way.
Jojo Rabbit walks a fine line between comedy and drama as it presents an emotionally-rich movie with a great message. With its fantastic cast, striking imagery and beautiful ending, it’s enough to make me want to revisit this movie someday despite not liking war movies. Actually, I wouldn’t even consider this movie’s main focus to be on war but rather on the useless, unnecessary and abnormally stupid logic of bigotry and racism and how understanding and kindness can break down that wall and because of that, I would say that Jojo Rabbit is the most important movie of the season.