Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit shatters the mould of any Nazi related movie you have ever seen. Using the warmth of humanity and humour Waititi paints a picture of what fanaticism can do to a person. In this case the person is ten year old Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis). Jojo lives with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) and is a card carrying member of the Hitler Youth who dreams of being in Hitler’s personal guard. His obsession is such that he even has an imaginary friend of Hitler (played by Waititi). Through his adventures with the Hitler Youth Jojo meets Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson) and Finkel (Alfie Allen) who become his advisors on all things Nazi including important first-hand information of how Jews can hypnotise people.
One day, after getting home early, Jojo investigates a noise he hears upstairs and discovers his mother has hidden a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in the loft. Soon what he believes and what he feels become conflicted and Jojo must go on a journey to his very core to understand just what is happening around him.
Whilst the film is satirical, the true strength of it is in the way it unpacks indoctrination and what people truly believe. Jojo’s relationships with those around him including Klenzendorf show the different levels of belief people have. Jojo’s imaginary Hitler becomes a key element to this especially as Jojo begins to understand what is happening around him. The way his Hitler treats him as he develops changes dramatically with their relationship building to its inevitable showdown.
Offbeat and humorous, the film also does not shy away from the tragic elements you might expect with a film about Nazis, but does it do enough? If I had one criticism it would be that the film may actually play it safe with the satire. We know Nazis are bad; perhaps a bit more bite in the satire may have helped? Perhaps hold a mirror up more to society? This is something the world today needs to hear and process – in some ways we are all ten year old Jojo. We just need to work out what we are all blindly following.
Verdict: 8.5 out of 10. A clever, comical tragic tale that will make you laugh and cry whilst at the same time hopefully make you question your own beliefs. This film wont be for everyone, but it remains an original piece carried amazingly by Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo.