Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit

To look at this as just a comedy that pokes fun at fascism is to do it a disservice. It distinguishes itself by how it uses its humor. It starts off broad in style and tone, forcing the viewer to look at how utterly absurd authoritarianism is on its face. As it proceeds, it gradually weaves in more dramatic elements and the comedy downshifts in intensity, used more for irony and to soothe the audience's nerves as the consequences and human cost of the fascism the film depicts sink in. In an interesting touch, Waititi's portrayal of Hitler grows in intensity as the story progresses: he starts as a figure of goofball whimsy and gradually becomes darker and meaner as the film's protagonist grows away from what Hitler represents. Waititi's direction is just as impressive, offsetting the inherently grim quality of the subject matter with idyllic visuals and a comforting sense of warmth in how he shows kindness and beauty persevering in the worst of circumstances. The young leads are fantastic here but equally worthy of note are stellar performances from Johansson and Rockwell, who deliver the comic bits with timing and elan but also infuse their roles with surprising poignancy and dramatic depth. In short, an important work from a director of growing importance, rich in both humor and humanity.

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