Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★★★

This is Taika Waititi's best film (to date). It displays a maturity and grasp of the horror of war in Nazi Germany despite an apparent lightness of touch which might, on the surface, belie that fact. If you saw the trailer to this film, you might expect something in tone that is closer to an episode of 'Allo 'Allo yet the film we get spends much more time in peeling the layers back on identity. Yes there is the comedy for which Waititi has become well-known, delivered in deadpan Teutonic drawl but that is undercut by something that happens about two-thirds of the way in which is such a gut-punch that as an audience member, I was left reeling for some time afterwards. It happens with no histrionics and in such a matter of fact way which significantly heightens the impact of it.

Of the performances, the young actors steal the limelight, and they deserve all the kudos that I hope will come their way. Thomasin McKenzie follows up her sterling work in last year's Leave No Trace with another striking turn which would indicate she has got a great career ahead of her. Archie Yates seems to be channeling an adolescent Nick Frost in an hilarious film debut and Roman Griffin Davis holds it all together with wide-eyed innocence along with something more deeply moving as the titular Jojo. Waititi once again casts the actor he knows best in the controversial role of Hitler but gets the balance right in projecting what is a persona out of Jojo's imagination. ScarJo's as Jojo's mother is the beating heart of the film and she inhabits the role with ease while Sam Rockwell avoids cliche with some nuance to his Nazi (yes I know that sounds counter-intuitive but watch the film first to understand this). And Stephen Merchant walks a fine line between menace and humour with his Gestapo officer.

I can imagine there will be some upset at the thought of the film in that is would appear to make light of the terrible atrocities inflicted upon the Jewish people by the Nazi's but I can only urge people to watch it and find something that has much more delicacy towards this subject and I hope will stand as a testament to Waititi's progression as a humanist director.

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