This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Zoë Rose Bryant’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
So, as I expected, while I really, really liked this on my first viewing, I flat out LOVED it on a rewatch. What could’ve easily been a smorgasbord of scrambled and satirical story beats under a lesser director absolutely soars thanks to Taika’s pitch-perfect precision and terrific tonal tightrope act. This time around, I found that its comedy was even crisper, its heart was even heavier, and its optimism was even more overwhelming. The whole cast crushes the material, but I wanna shine a light on one member in particular: Ms. Scarlett Johansson.
Going into my first viewing, I’d heard endless talk about ScarJo’s possible Best Supporting Actress nomination and how she could hypothetically be recognized for both this *and* Marriage Story come awards season. I found myself amiably charmed by her pleasant portrayal of Rosie Betzler throughout the entire film, but it wasn’t until a certain shot that everything sunk into place.
Yes, it wasn’t until Jojo unassumingly bumped into his mother’s dangling (untied) shoes that I’d truly realized the brutal brilliance in Johansson’s performance. Rosie had been this blinding bright light in the Jojo and Elsa’s lives up until this point, and she was afforded many moments of affecting affability, but it was this particular shot that’s been solely seared into my mind since my first viewing almost a month ago and kept her character at the forefront of any conversation I had about the film.
At first, it may not seem like Johansson is doing anything too out of the ordinary, simply committing wholeheartedly the matriarchal role with her usual captivating charisma. However, when we (and Jojo) see Rosie hanging lifelessly in the town square, we automatically feel breathless, without a second thought. The raw pain of such a sight is indescribable, and memories of our time with Rosie come rushing back, whether we consciously realize it or not. From watching her employ a no-nonsense attitude while conversing with Captain Klenzendorf to listening in on her lively late-night discussions with Elsa to witnessing her lovingly dance with Jojo in their living room to hearing her continuously espouse the undying virtues of love and peace, these memories flood our brains, reminding us of all the subtle ways we slowly but surely fell in love with Rosie, even if we didn’t intend to. In the moment, it may seem like Johansson is simply delivering above-average acting, but upon this further reflection, the true beauty of her boisterous performance reveals itself. The groundwork had been meticulously laid for our inevitable emotional devastation, and we didn’t even realize it until it was too late.
As I said, everyone is utterly splendid in the film. I would love for individual nominations for Roman, Thomasin, and even Taika as well, and the cast is more than deserving of a SAG Ensemble nod (and a possible win). But from my first viewing to my post-film ruminations to this most recent rewatch, it is Johansson that has stuck with me the most. She may not be my personal Best Supporting Actress of the year (that distinction still falls to the jubilant Jennifer Lopez - go watch Hustlers!!!), but she most certainly deserves widespread acclaim for her work here, and I’m anxiously awaiting the competition in this category that awaits.