Jojo Rabbit Movie Review: Audacious Nazi comedy

Updated: 30 January, 2020 13:43 IST | Johnson Thomas | Mumbai

The beauty of Jojo Rabbit's script lies in the manner in which the hyper-nationalist turns into a human being one that understands the true reality and mans' up to the scary lonesome world ahead.

A still from Jojo Rabbit's trailer
A still from Jojo Rabbit's trailer

Jojo Rabbit
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant

Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: Rating

A coming-of-age comedy about Nazis from the 'Thor: Ragnarok' director Taika Waititi was unexpected surely…but it's an intriguing one nevertheless. Given the fact that some of the major nations of the world are professing a hyper-nationalistic fervour for their patriots, this World War II satire that follows a hyper-nationalistic German boy while his world turns upside down ( in the course of the film) is also quite topical.

Waititi adapts Christine Leunens' novel Caging Skies by turning it into a coming-of-age story that just happens to be set in Germany during the period when the allies were gaining ground towards the end of World War II. It's a stirring set-up no doubt and the possibilities seem endless. We meet Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a sweet 10 year old German boy headed off to Nazi camp, where young men learn to throw grenades and young women learn the importance of having Aryan babies. This eager-be-be-Hail-Hitler-beaver is obviously trying to overcompensate for humiliating talk regarding his father's desertion by modelling himself as the ideal Nazi. But he is obviously too young to understand the implications of his actions. What we see from hereon is a satirical up-take of the consequences thereof.

We also see Waititi on screen as the 10 year Old's imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, a character not from or by the book. This Hitler is a bumbling idiot who seems a little too apathetic even if arrogant.

Watch the trailer Jojo Rabbit:

Just when that 'Hitler' schtick begins to pal, the plot gets intense and emotionally engaging. Jojo finds a Jew (a luminous, magnetic Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in his attic, outing the reveal that his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), is also working for the resistance – a fact that leaves the little boy totally confused and clueless on how to react to the situation. The beauty of this script lies in the manner in which the hyper-nationalist turns into a human being – one that understands the true reality and mans' up to the scary lonesome world ahead.

The parallel unveiling of the imaginary friend as the real monster and the Jew who was designated monster but turns out human, is by far one of the most interesting tracks of the film. Waititi, while playing up the goofy nature of his takes makes sure the melodrama is kept subterranean. So even when there's a heart-breaking reveal, you don't get much time to feel the excruciating pain of it.

The actors, of course, make this experience exceptionally fruitful with their impactful skill and empathy. McKenzie, Davis, Johansson and Waititi win you over with their sublime craft and invigorating presence. Waititi as director, navigates the risky premise with a tonal temper that is both illuminating and enrapturing. It's audacious, shocking and keeps you glued to your seats with all its bitter-sweet complexities.

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First Published: 30 January, 2020 12:37 IST

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