Jojo Rabbit – A Thinly Veiled Masterpiece

Entertainment Editor Andrew Burke tells us what he thought about the strange new Fox Movie.

I had the pleasure of seeing Jojo Rabbit back in November as part of the Cork Film Festival. At the time of writing this, I have watched it a second time, now that it has been released in Irish cinemas. It is hard to truly describe what this film is about without spoiling it. On the surface, and from what the trailers showed, this film comes across as a satirical parody of World War 2 and Nazi propaganda. And while there is satire in Jojo Rabbit, this film is a lot deeper than it initially lets on. 

Directed by Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit is about a ten year old German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) in the latter stages of the second World War when Germany is losing. He joins Hitler Youth and believes in the Nazi cause so much that Adolf Hitler, who is played by Taika, is his imaginary friend. Things take a turn when Jojo discovers that his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) upstairs and his beliefs are really put to the test. 

 

What surprised me the most about this film was how serious it could get, along with the perfect balance between comedy and drama that it achieved. There are the high moments where I was almost on the floor from laughter, with some of the best comedic timing I have ever seen in a film, and the low moments where this film will hurt you and make you sob, where the thinly veiled upbeat childish tone fades away and you are reminded about the atrocities of WWII. And Taika allows for both of these moments to shine. He never threw in a poorly timed joke or jokes in poor taste and allowed both the comedic and dramatic elements to settle and linger for as long as they needed to. He genuinely treated the time frame in which this film happens with respect. When there is a joke in this film, it is almost always either something to do with Jojo’s innocence and childish antics or poking fun of the Nazis and what was done around that time.

Jojo Rabbit is mainly about childhood and living life to the fullest. Jojo is a victim to the Nazi propaganda at the time. He sees everyone else participating in the war and wearing cool uniforms and wants to be a part of it too. He idolises Hitler so much that he is his imaginary friend. Roman Griffin Davis is excellent in this movie and I hope to see him in more films soon. But the best part of this movie is without a doubt Jojo’s interactions with Elsa. His childhood innocence shines as he has irrational anger because she is Jewish, and he is afraid because she is a girl and we don’t see Jojo talk or know any girls other than his mother or late sister. There is a contrast between these two characters, with Jojo refusing to live life and just be a kid and Elsa not being able to go outside and live a life at all.

 

My personal favourite character is Sam Rockwell’s Captain Klenzendorf, whose only desires, seemingly, are to fight gloriously in the war and drink away the days because he can’t. As the movie progresses, we see that he really does care for Jojo and his family and there is more to him than his comedic exterior persona. No main character in this film is the same from beginning to end. There is always a deeper level to them revealed to us throughout the film.

I cannot recommend enough that you go see Jojo Rabbit. This may be one of my favourite films of all time, and at the very least, the best film I have seen in a long time. I promise you this movie is more than just an imaginary Hitler being funny. For me, Taika Waititi has created a masterpiece of cinema. 

 

Thank you to the team at Cork Film Festival for the invitation to see Jojo Rabbit early!