jadawson’s review published on Letterboxd:
So many great moments and performances in this film. I can't say i loved it overall but I definitely loved small moments of it. Scarlett Johansson, Roman Griffin Davis, & Thomasin Mckenzie are all brilliant in this in both dramatic and humorous scenes. The film itself is ambitious in the themes it is trying to discuss (though the humor itself is lacking in this, which i'll get into next). Fanaticism, idealism, nationalism, innocence, moral right and wrong. The film touches on each of these through the eyes of a young boy getting caught up in the fervor of a proud country at war and being swept into the rest of the beliefs that came with that. Sam Rockwell's character attempted to show some nuance to that but that whole section felt misguided at best. But everything in the interactions between Davis and Mckenzie was phenomenal, as well as between Davis and Johansson. So much is shown through their interactions and what is left unsaid that the audience can fill in through context and it's brilliant.
It's such a monumental task to try to walk the tonal tightrope necessary for a film like this. Waititi does an admirable job attempting this though some of the humor fell flat for me. It wasn't tonal whiplash or anything like that that dampened my experience, but to me if anything it felt like the humor wasn't ambitious enough. When satirizing a subject so ingrained in the tragic history of the world as Hitler and the Nazi party are (as well as fascist ideals bubbling up again around the world over the past decade to bring a modern touch point), it feels like you need to swing for the fences rather than make obvious and light hearted stabs at them. Jokes with the intention of making the viewer say "boy isn't that stupid" or "well that's super racist" don't really get across the scale of the evil.