When you begin watching Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, the immediate feeling one will get is that it is a cent percent fantasy satire that will rely only on humor. But as the story progresses, Waititi sort of manages to take the movie away from the mere satire angle and evokes empathy inside us. These days we are seeing the repercussions of blatant extremism by even world leaders to manipulate larger populations and the relevance of a film like Jojo Rabbit kind of increases because of that.
Spoiler Alert! Jojo Betzler is this 10-year-old boy who is a huge fan of Adolf Hitler. The movie is set in those last days of the Second World War and Jojo is shown to us attending military camps. But his life had some other plans as an injury took him away from the battlefield. The changes that happened to the perspective Jojo when he found a Jew girl who was living secretly in his own house form the crux of Jojo Rabbit.
You can’t really say that the movie has a very neutral perspective. It is definitely trying to mock Nazi Germany who sort of followed that leader so blindly. But the craftsmanship of Taika Waititi is in building that world of Jojo where Hitler is a hero to him. The 10-year-old is brimming with jingoism and the movie exaggerates the situation satirically by making even children fight in the war; it felt like a metaphorical representation of how every age group got equally influenced by the mighty dictator. Jojo Rabbit gradually steps away from its sarcastic tone and starts showing the gritty side of the hate politics and there is a point in the climax where both Jojo and Elsa are staring at each other as they both stood victims of a war created by a master manipulator.
Taika Waititi is known for his kind of eccentric humor and Jojo Rabbit is easily a movie that falls in his comfort zone. The quirks he uses in his characterizations are hilarious. He is using humor extensively to achieve many things. Even when Scarlett Johansson is talking about love, one can sense that Waititi wackiness in the presentation. The satiric world where kids are accidentally bombing buildings remains the same and yet we feel empathy towards the characters inside this movie. I think that’s the reason why this movie works. The politics of the film are against hate, dictatorship and jingoism and Taika Waititi uses his most comfortable tool, humor, to achieve that. Mihai Mălaimare Jr.’s frames had the intensity in emotional sequences and it was also effective in establishing that fantasy world Waititi wanted to create. The production design of the movie was also great. The cuts played a crucial role in making the pacing of the movie very engaging.
Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo the boy who worships Adolf Hitler is really brilliant. The 12-year-old has lengthy dialogues and subtle emotions to show in this movie and he played that central character in an impressive way. Scarlett Johansson who plays the role of Jojo’s mother Rosie has got a peculiar character here, something that we haven’t seen her do often and the actress gracefully did that part. Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa conveyed the pain of the character and the compassion in that character very neatly. Sam Rockwell as the army officer was hilarious. Taika Waititi himself portrayed the role of the caricature version of Hitler and the chemistry he shared with Davis was so good to watch.
If you ask me what I think as the specialty of this movie, I would say it was the fact that it effectively blended satiric storytelling and deeply emotional drama. The stark difference in the kind of loneliness both Jojo and Elsa faces at the end shows that puzzling outcome of hate politics and the always cheerful Taika Waititi asks us to dance it off quoting Rainer Maria Rilke.
If you ask me what I think as the specialty of this movie, I would say it was the fact that it effectively blended satiric storytelling and deeply emotional drama.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended