I’m really behind on my library of critically acclaimed movies, so when I found out the theatre down the street plays one critically acclaimed, highly regarded movie every 4-5 days I was ecstatic. I’m going to be able to keep up with the latest movies and catch up on all the others I’ve missed in the past at home on Netflix, disney+, Crave, Amazon Prime, DVD’s etc.
The first movie I was able to catch was Jojo Rabbit just a few days ago. The timing in which this theatre releases the movies is generally a few months after the true theatrical debut (so I guess you could argue I’m still quite behind.) But it’s the easiest way for me to view these movies living in a smaller city.
Before I saw Jojo Rabbit I went in with only a bit of knowledge on the plot and its characters but a WHOLE LOT of positive reviews from my peers (as I just graduated Film school.) So I did my best to just go in with a blank slate and an open mind to whatever comes my way.
As the movie opened I was drawn in right away. Taika Waititi takes something historically horrific and puts a seemingly positive feeling behind it that stems from the lead boy Jojo and then he tops it with sustainable humour.
Taika Waititi as Hitler is incredible. He is kind and supportive to Jojo but also slips many Hitler-esque comments in every scene he is in.
There are moments of satire and built in sarcasm when speaking of the war that add humour and don’t remove you from the film but instead draw you in deeper.
The audience falls for Jojo as a courageous little nazi that is the outcast of the nazi boys camp.
When the accident happens and Jojo is left at home or working at that Nazi office we are meant to feel bad for him and personally I did.
We meet Jojo’s mother played by none other than Scarlett Johanson. In all honesty when she first came into the story it was the singular moment that pulled me out of the movie for a few split seconds. Her accent in her first scene felt fake and forced so I was concerned. But as the movie rolled on I never felt it again.
There is a moment between Jojo and his mother when he says he wants his dad. Johanson grabs ash from the fireplace and swipes it across her face and acts as Jojo’s father and then without hesitation is Jojo’s mother and father almost simultaneously. It was true craftsmanship and a really heartfelt moment as they danced together and Johansson’s character explained that his mother was doing her best.
When Jojo discovers there is a “Jew” (Elsa) living under his roof he is scared and wants to kill “it” but throughout the film becomes interested in where they sleep and what they eat and eventually the wall that separates them disappears and Elsa becomes human.
While this is going on we discover Jojo’s Mom is a form of rebel against the Nazi Government. And in turn she ends up hung in the streets. Jojo sees her shoes dangling on his way home and we get a heartbreaking moment of realism.
Throughout the end of the movie Jojo experiences the last parts of the war and becomes closer with Elsa.
There are scenes with Children such as Jojo and his best friend Yorki in the middle of gun shots and bombs going off. The juxtaposition of these two things (war & children) caused a sad feeling to sweep into my stomach. I felt conflicted because there were moments of humour that revolved around these two things.
Jojo gets caught out on the street wearing a nazi jacket during the takeover of Germany nearing the end of the war. When Captain Klenzendorf and him have an exchange about his mother being an actual good person and taking care of his “sister”. Klenzendorf rips off Jojo’s jacket and calls him a jew. The american army men grab Klenzendorf and remove Jojo as he cries. Gunshots are heard as Jojo runs home.
This moment was so powerful to me as Kelnzendorf a clearly suppressed man was willing to quietly help Jojo and the Jewish Girl his mother had been housing by giving his life in that scene.
In the finals moments of the movie we see the streets are much safer and Elsa and Jojo dance the movie out. What a fun way to end a rollercoaster (in a great way) of a movie.
In closing I was encapsulated in almost every minute of this movie. I was so impressed with Waititi’s ability to craft something that tackles such a historically devastating thing in a way that causes laughter, sadness and more laughter without being offensive in the slightest. It truly takes a great deal of effort and knowledge to put together something like Jojo Rabbit.
Final Mold Score: 98