January 2020

Jojo Rabbit

Fox Searchlight Pictures // Directed by Taika Waititi // Starring Roman Griffin David, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Scarlett Johansson

“Jojo is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend -- Adolf Hitler -- Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.”

Good old Hitler, always good for a laugh, always there to lift the ol’ spirits when they’re down - said no one ever...except Taika Waititi. Bringing his signature style to a movie about a young boy whose imaginary friend just happens to be the Fuhrer could have gone many ways (of course), however, joyfully and happily, Jojo Rabbit ends up being magnificent in pretty much every way. First and foremost, the whole Hitler thing? Hilarious and never played egregiously – Taika’s Hitler drops in and out to provide silly humour and allows for Jojo (Davis) to grow as a character. Roman Griffin David himself is excellent carrying the movie on his young shoulders and as his on-screen mother, Scarlett Johansson brings a steadying, emotive feeling to proceedings. Thomasin McKenzie brings a real steel to her performance as the young Jewish girl at odds with Jojo’s staunchly (young) Nazi beliefs.

Jojo Rabbit really comes to life when Elsa is discovered living in the walls of Jojo’s house – the movies emotion comes heavily from this and the directions that plot splinters into (those shoes man...). Taika delivers a real humanity in the moments where it’s most required to balance out the humour laced throughout – something he has managed time and time again with previous efforts. With Elsa and Jojo’s relationship, Taika challenges the (ridiculous) Nazi view on Jewish people and ensures we don’t forget how absurd their ideologies really were - though a later Gestapo home visit ramps up the tension and delivers some real white-knuckle moments. The only real downsides are the near-slapstick performances of Rebel Wilson and Sam Rockwell as members of the Nazi Party complete with spoofy accents and behaviour, however, both manage to remain tolerable without disrupting the tone majorly.

Throughout, Jojo Rabbit is bursting with heart, emotion, tension, humour, and wonderful performances – it’s fabulous.

10 / 10

Check out all of our reviews from January...

 

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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