“I’m think you’ll find that metal is the strongest thing on Earth followed by dynamite and then muscles”Review by Lily Taylor
Firstly I’d like to congratulate the genius that is Taika Waititi for winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and state publicly that I believe Scarlett Johansson was robbed of the award for Best Supporting Actress- in the words of Tony Harrison, it’s an outrage.
On paper, a comedy about a member of the Hitler Youth in World War II Germany is a bit of a gamble, it’s not really renowned as a humorous event in world history and definitely has the power to offend a lot of people. However, I adored this film. When I saw it in the cinema I had one of those rare moments when the end credits start to roll and you know you could quite happily rewind and watch the entire film all over again straight away. I can count the number of times this has happened to me on my fingers so I can assure you it’s not a routine occurrence and a film really does need star quality to inspire such a reaction; Jojo Rabbit has exactly that, star quality.
Roman Griffin Davis plays ten year old Jojo Betzler, avid member of the Hitler Youth, Son to mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) and possessor of a loveable imaginary friend by the name of Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). Jojo is fiercely supportive of his friend Hitler and throws himself literally feet first into a Hitler Youth camp run by Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) alongside his portly friend Yorki (Archie Yates). Jojo discovers an intruder in his home, a young Jewish girl called Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) who used to be in the same class at school as his late sister, Inge. Jojo agreed not to reveal Elsa’s location to the Gestapo as long as she reveals ‘Jew secrets’ to him so that he can write a book about their mind-reading powers and terrifying horns. Jojo’s mother Rosie looks after Elsa and secretly distributes anti-war posters around the town. Jojo and Elsa develop a friendship and end up surviving until the end of the war together.
Can we please talk about Scarlett Johansson in this film? Her character is so endearing and so loveable, there’s a fantastic scene in which she swipes coal across her chin and pretends to be Jojo’s father. It’s so refreshing to see vibrant fashion in 1940’s Germany instead of the sepia toned, miserable clothing that’s usually depicted. It gives a lightness to her character and we come to recognise her trademark red and white shoes. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, she deserved to win the Oscar!
I have to give credit to writer and director Taika Waititi because Jojo Rabbit treads a virtually invisible line between tragedy and comedy. Somehow the chemistry behind this film marries together the best and worst parts of human character. I laughed and I very nearly cried watching it, Roman Griffin Davis is a brilliant young actor and his relationship with his mother is so emotive, I challenge any of you not to feel moved in watching it. I urge you to see this film, it occupies a totally unique niche in movie history, somewhere that nobody else has quite been before.
I would give Jojo Rabbit a whopping 10 Hilter’s in swim caps out of 10.
P.S. Jojo Rabbit is based on Caging Skies by Christine Leunens which I totally recommend.