Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ½

Well, it has nothing of any value to say about fascism, oppression, or really anything about the Holocaust, the way its traumas reverberate throughout history, or anything else in a time when nationalist sentiment is rising in our own backyards. But on the other hand, it's poorly shot, ugly to look at, dreadfully unfunny, and everyone involved is covered in flop sweat at every turn trying to pass it off as anything more than a shitty short film that got padded out to feature length.

I guess it does make one salient point, though largely by accident: that the world has decided that the burden of defusing hatred rests on the hated, and that good minorities Rise Above It All and slowly nurse their oppressors back to moral health. That it is our privilege to be offered the opportunity to steer people back to shore through our basic humanity. It's startling, really, how largely nonplussed by her own persecution Elsa seems to be, though not surprising given how the film contextualises her presence.

Waititi's willingness to gloss over the mentally and emotionally exhausting nature of navigating oppression, even in comparatively extremely mild forms, is a large part of why the whole thing feels so clanging and hollow and toothless. He's more interested in tying a 'love conquers hate' bow on things than digging into anything deeper than that. More to the point, beyond the whole plot hinging on a 10-year-old boy's crush on a 17-year-old girl curing him of Nazism (which, like, come the fuck on), the insane thing here is that the movie forgives the kid - and demands you, the viewer, do the same even before there's a kernel of a reason to - even though Jojo never actually does anything. He is heroised through sheer inaction. But the film wants to have its cake and eat it too, so this hedging of bets drains it of any power it might otherwise have had.

[Side note: I'm imagining a version of this that ditches the absolutely garbage Imaginary Hitler Friend conceit and instead pushes Jojo towards participating in a ragtag, underground, child-led spy network that helps bring about the Nazi defeat. But I guess that doesn't lend itself to being a back-patting liberal panacaea quite so much.]

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