Movie Review: Jojo Rabbit
By Izzy Ster
The idea of having an imaginary friend as a child is not a foreign one. Especially for those that seem to be wallflowers-in-waiting. An imaginary friend is a readily-available friend, a sort of support system that is always ready to listen, give high fives, or play games with. Such is the case with 10-year-old Jojo, played by the talented Roman Griffin Davis, in the recent blockbuster Jojo Rabbit. Jojo’s moments with his imaginary pal prove to be quite adorable during the film, despite the fact that his imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler.
Jojo Rabbit is a World War II satire that follows the lonely German boy, Jojo, who must confront his blind nationalism after discovering his single mother, Rosie, is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa, in their attic. The majority of the film takes place in a small German town in which Jojo is spoon fed propaganda and Nazi youth culture. His imaginary friend, Hitler, acts as an emotional support figure to the young hero, as Jojo proves to be quite timid and at times awkward–such disposition is exemplified when he attends the Hitler Youth day camp and gets dubbed “Jojo Rabbit,” which is not meant affectionately. Taika Waititi’s performance of Jojo’s imagined Hitler perfectly portrays the Führer of Jojo’s optimistic fantasies. To combat Jojo’s nationalism, his mother Rosie, played sublimely by Scarlett Johansson, is immune to the “appeal” of National Socialism; she matches Jojo’s vivacity and his magical thinking while serving as a foil to his ideologies. To compliment Jojo’s nationalism, his non-imaginary friend Yorki, played by Archie Yates, is the perfect comic relief. Yorki also exposes the truth of the Nazi agenda through blunt statements and ridiculous stories.
Jojo struggles to maintain his innocence and morals throughout the film. Throughout the film, Rosie attempts to guide him, but Jojo learns most of his lessons from the Jewish girl Elsa, portrayed by Thomasin McKenzie, that his mother is hiding through an attic. Through several conversations, which start as tense but ultimately become more lighthearted, Jojo begins to develop a crush on Elsa–this further fuels the ethical urgency of the film, and melds more charm into the plot.
With cinematography that seems Wes Anderson-esque at some points, Jojo Rabbit hits the the satirical mark and delivers a gorgeous film that unexpectedly marries fascism with charm. It doesn’t result to graphic imagery, but rather bright colors and daring humor to drive its plot. This is a film not to be missed…as it may arise again during Oscar season.