Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is like every other boy his age, he is nervous about the world around him, wants to look the best that he can in front of his peers and although he doesn’t have many friends, he relies on his imaginary best friend to advise him on the more serious things. Jojo also lives in Nazi Germany and his best friend just happens to be Adolph Hitler (Taika Waititi). Jojo is told all the things that little boys and girls were told at the time and Jojo laps it up.
]He’s told that Jews are wicked and not to be trusted and that women are only good for cleaning and making babies and so Jojo wants to do his best to please The Fuhrer who he dreams of meeting for real one day. However, one day Jojo hears noises upstairs and finds a young girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in the wall. However, despite everything he’s been told about Jews, Jojo starts to warm to Elsa and learns that perhaps the things he’s been told are wrong.
Jojo Rabbit is a heart-warming, hopeful, emotional and tragic film from writer/director Taika Waititi. Nazi Germany is viewed through the eyes of Jojo who is just a child, so although the adults in the film (and the audience) may see the world for what it really is, Jojo doesn’t and it’s all because he has been overwhelmed with propaganda at such a young and impressionable age.
The adults are mostly seen as taking things very casually, even when there is word of an impending attack on Germany and for Jojo, this kind of thing is reassuring to him, especially because of his trust in Germany’s leader. Jojo lives with his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) and despite their political differences, Jojo and his mother share a special bond that is at the heart of the film and perhaps shows the audience how nurture over nature can help a child to find the right way. There scenes together are touching in a way that brings out the best of both actors and Johansson hasn’t been this good in years.
Jojo’s friendship with Elsa is also something unique that forms into a brother/sister relationship but is also adorably moulded by Jojo’s burgeoning feelings of romantic love, even though he doesn’t know how to deal with them. The chemistry between the two young actors is sweet, often funny and the carefully crafted script shows how their relationship changes and perhaps would make the audience think twice before judging a person they’d never met.
Although the audience may see where this story is heading from the start, Jojo Rabbit shows that it’s more about the journey than the destination and the direction that the film takes its audience is through some dark humour, unexpectedly emotional scenes and moments that can help its audience relate to Jojo’s experiences in ways they perhaps weren’t expecting. The cast is filled with cameos from Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant, but the warmth and bond between Johansson and Davis is what really pulls at the heart strings in all the right ways.
Although it would be thoughtless to disregard Davis’ performance alone as he carries almost the entire film himself and his second-best friend, Yorki (Archie Yates) has some of the best one-liners in the film.
Jojo Rabbit is a story about how the world is ever changing and along with the world, people can change too. If you feel that the state of the world you live in right now is more than you can bare, Jojo Rabbit is a reassuring story that firmly believes that nothing stays the same forever. In another pair of hands, Jojo Rabbit would have been another deadly serious and harrowing Oscar contender merely because it tells the audience the Nazis are bad.
I think we get the message by now so Jojo Rabbit feels like a breath of fresh air and a more approachable story that will entertain and maybe even educate people of all ages.
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