Jojo Rabbit – Film Review
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Taika Waititi (screenplay), Christine Leunens (novel)
Stars: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson
Jojo is a young boy trying to make sense of the world. He’s growing up in Germany during the Second World War, which is quite an unusual place. His Dad is not around and his mother (Scarlett Johnason) spends as much time with him as she can, despite having to earn a living. He spends most of his time indoors and with his imaginary friend, one Adolf Hitler!
This is a new comedy from director Taika Waititi, who previously brought us films such as What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He has also been involved with a number of recent blockbusters, including Thor: Ragnarok for Marvel. This new comedy sails perilously close to the wind, turning Adolf Hitler into a comedy figure. Similar ideas have been used before in films such as the Producers but it is always dangerous ground. The justification for this is that the film is seen through the eyes of Jojo, a child who naturally believes that he is on the side of good and righteousness. Over the course of the film he learns some difficult truths.
The film has been splitting the critics, and receiving abuse from the likes of the Guardian. Whether this is because of the use of Hitler for comic purposes or genuine dislike of the work is hard to say, but it is certainly difficult to see a man responsible for the death of millions as a comic character. The film does deal with this and the main character Jojo sees the error of his ways.
The film owes a debt to Wes Anderson in its style and cinematography. Despite or because of this, it is visually quite impressive and very stylish, if not particularly original. Jojo is played by Roman Griffin Davis who is very enjoyable and certainly looks ideal for the part with the wide-eyed innocence required. He carries the film and is in almost every frame. This is one of the most unusual films of this or any year, but if you can get past its dangerous conceit, there is a lot to enjoy.