Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★★

Taiki Waititi took what could have been a horrible car wreck of a premise and created a film taking viewers on a complex emotional journey.

To be honest, I avoided this until now because the general public seems to have a higher tolerance for Nazism than I do, and given some personal history, I was just not ready to see a film which tried to say that if we all just laughed at the dumb Nazis, they would go away and everything would be great again.

Thankfully, even as there are some good laughs, it's not that simple a film, and it's really getting at the complicated nature of trying to do good in the midst of living in a place time where the concepts of goodness and decency have become so tainted by human frailties and insecurities they are easily misconstrued for surviving.

It's a complex film. It doesn't look away from the horror humanity can be responsible for, and it manages to not be trite in the way it talks about our everyday love of the people around us being the reason to do what we can in the face of it.

I've read a number of complaints about Scarlett Johansen's character, and I don't really agree with them. I thought she was excellent, and I don't think her character was so far off as the criticism was so loudly claiming. She's a mother, doing her best, in an extremely difficult situation, and is also very obviously the most intelligent person in this small world. She's navigating it fairly wonderfully, and who she is makes perfect sense when her son is a child who has that active a relationship with an imaginary friend. The apple didn't fall from the tree in the sense that she was aware of the power of imagination, whimsy and hope.

All in all, it's an impressive film. It's a rare film in it's level of emotional honesty. In this is way, there's some similarity with Guillermo del Toro's best work, though del Toro seems to lean on the tragic aspects of classical filmmaking, where Waititi seems to refuse to decide that we have responsibility to not let the tragic make us hopeless.

I'm glad Taika Waititi is getting to do what he wants at this point. It is always interesting and engaging, and this is an excellent film.