Taika Waititi’s new film is a smart and powerful comedy-drama about Nazi era
You can’t choose your kids’ imaginary friends: they do. So what happens when you’re a 10-year-old boy living under the Nazi dictatorship?
In Taika Waititi’s new film, Jojo Rabbit, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler’s imaginary friend is a goofy and ridiculous version of Adolf Hitler. It’s not that weird, considering that the boy, raised in a small town in Germany, is a child who lost his elder sister and has no idea where his father is. His kindhearted mother, Rosie, told him he’s fighting the Allies in Italy, but very likely Johannes’ dad joined the resistance to upset the regime.
Rosie knows the truth, but she also understands that her son can’t realize what is really happening and she tries her best to protect him. Only when he refuses to kill a rabbit during a Hitler Youth Camp, Johannes starts to experience Nazis’ real nature. His doubts will grow when he finds out that a Jewish girl is hiding in his home and that most of his role models are not what they seem.
Written and directed by Waititi, Jojo Rabbit is based on Christine Leunen’s novel Caging Skies: the film had its world premiere last September at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival where it won the People’s Choice Award; it also received two nominations at the 77th Golden Globes. Nevertheless, some critics attacked the film for its comedic portrayal of Nazis. Where is the truth?
Let’s say that many filmmakers told the audience the darkest pages of history books, but the way they do it makes the difference. The New Zealand filmmaker of Boy and Thor: Ragnarok did a great job in adapting the book, delivering a solid screenplay which mixes farce and drama. Roman Griffin Davis, the 12-year-old English actor who plays “Jojo”, proves himself to be good enough to play with a cast which includes Oscar winner Sam Rockwell (Captain Klenzendorf), Scarlett Johansson (Rosie), Alfie Allen (Finkel), Rebel Wilson (Fräulein Rahm) and Taika Waititi himself (Adolf Hitler).
Other things to praise about this film are the editing by Tom Eagles and the music by Michael Giacchino. German versions of Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand and David Bowie’s Heroes are also featured in the soundtrack.
Jojo Rabbit hits Italian theaters on January 16, 2020.