Jojo Rabbit: LFF Film Review

I was really unsure if I was going to like Jojo Rabbit – I love everything Taika Waititi has done and it has received so much praise but I didn’t know if the humour would be my cup of tea – so I’m relieved to say it’s fantastic. How could I have doubted Waititi?

Roman Griffin Davis stars as Jojo, a ten-year-old who trains with the Hitler Youth in Germany during World War II. His whole belief system is turned upside down when he finds out his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) has hidden a Jew named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in the house.

Although I’m a big fan of Waititi, I was really uncertain about this because taking the piss out of Hitler and the Nazis seemed in poor taste and insensitive and I was worried the attempts at humour would go down like a lead balloon. But I needn’t have worried. Obviously, someone as talented as Waititi knew how to strike the right tone and find the perfect balance between comedy and drama. It is smart and very funny but also knows when to be quieter and more moving.

The screenplay is genius. It is filled with wit and humour but some moments truly made me laugh out loud hard. I haven’t had a good laugh like that in a while! It was also a masterstroke having Hitler appear as an imaginary friend, as that meant Waititi could have complete freedom and make him super silly. All this just makes the sad ending even more surprising and moving because you don’t expect this frivolous bit of fun to be hard-hitting out of nowhere. The very end was positive, hopeful and lovely so I’m glad it didn’t end on a sad note.

The cast in this is an embarrassment of riches and I was originally surprised that some had signed up to this but now I get it. The cast – which also includes Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen and Stephen Merchant – are all hilarious but the standout for me was Jojo himself. Davis is a talented boy and such a natural, likeable lead. You just care about him so much. His best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) cracked me up the most, as did Sam Rockwell as the captain of a Hitler Youth camp. It was lovely to see Johansson doing something so different and I loved her quirky nature and wardrobe. Waititi plays Hitler as a silly, ridiculous caricature and did a fantastic job.

Jojo Rabbit was just way better than I expected it to be. It could have gone very wrong but I should have known it was in capable hands with the ever-amazing Waititi.

Seen at the 2019 London Film Festival. Comes to cinemas in January 2020. 

 

(Rating: 5/5)

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