Brandon Winchester’s review published on Letterboxd:
Movie #2557: Jojo Rabbit
Took a twenty five minute drive just to see this one and BOY was it worth it.
I find it odd that people are lambasting this film for its "hate" content when it's so obviously a satire about love, humanity and kindness. Taika Waititi has made his most mature film to date with his latest, Jojo Rabbit. Whereas Waititi has always been a great director for his humor and heart, I have never thought of him as a dramatic director first. With Jojo Rabbit, despite its silly humor this isn't what anchors the film. It's the human story of a boy learning to love and forgive in a world surrounded by fanaticism and hate. Jojo Rabbit is emotional and very personal and you can tell from its critique of the Nazi regime. I take this from the Film Theory class I'm in currently, with Psychoanalysis, despite the despicable nature of the Nazis and their cruel intentions and actions, you end up caring for a few of them. Why is this? Because they're human. Despite their truly horrible actions, you hate to see life being extinguished. I think its fascinating to view history from the losing side and with Jojo Rabbit, not only do they view it from that angle, but they ask the viewer to do the hard task and sympathize for the people in the Nazi regime. It is in this moment that you pity them and their mistakes. The anti hate humor and satire does its best to make this blow softer and for the most part it works wonders. I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit. The performances are all around pretty solid with the kids Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie being the best at conveying the changing tides of the war and of people's minds. This is a movie for today as much as Parasite is. Not in the sense of the modernness of the technology or anything, but the timeliness of the themes, especially around the current President of the US and the rise of white supremacy all over the world. It's disconcerting, but with Jojo Rabbit, Waititi gives the audience a way to not only cope, but also handle this radical idea. He not only makes fun of it, but also says "let's have a discussion." The metaphors and themes of the film which I won't spoil here are also very powerful. The score is great as is the production design and cinematography with all of them conveying a certain sense of historical accuracy. It's more colorful and lively than I'm sure Germany was at the time, but nonetheless presents the viewer with something of great taste. The film means to show all sides and make the viewer understand the entire gravity of this situation as well as the distress and pointlessness of both sides' desire to war. In one word, Jojo Rabbit is a microcosm and the end quote tagged to the end of the film says it best. I won't spoil it, just go see it.
There are only two flaws I have with the movie. At times it can be a little one dimensional and simply, while at others it can seem more nuanced and complex than that. It's a lack of balance that makes the film not feel entirely perfect in its direction. Despite the tone being finely treaded, it does certain things fairly poorly. I'm not saying I didn't like the use of Hitler in the film, because Waititi is a genius and a great performer, but I did feel a little misled by the synopsis, trailer and other marketing which made this comically absurd depiction of Hitler seem like a center point. Instead, he was but a side character who rarely showed up in the second act/back half of the film. I guess that's the point, but I thought we'd get more of that. Yet, I'm still happy with the lampooning of what we got.
Jojo Rabbit is a sweet and oddly controversial picture. With great performances, a nuanced script and solid direction, this film works enough to illicit both laughs and tears. At times it may be a little too simple and there are a few minor issues here and there, but this is overall an excellent film. 4.5/5
PS- The film feels like a film and is stylized like a film from the early 2000s, late 1990s. It's very odd. Add in the 1940s flare and the 1960s/70s callbacks and the film just seems more and more creative.
PSS- The best use of an F-Bomb in a PG-13 film ever.
PSSS- As a big fan of opening credits, this film has an excellent set of them that captures both the hilarious nature of fanaticism and the decades of change that were about to undergo Europe.