Johannes “Jojo Rabbit” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa Korr (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.
Never before have I seen a movie so immature yet so serious. Never before have I seen a movie so hilarious yet so emotional. Jojo Rabbit is exactly that type of movie. A movie that, on paper, sounds impossible to pull off, yet writer/director Taika Waititi managed to do exactly that.
This is obviously a film that is not going to be for everybody, and it will more than likely offend some people, and it may come across as distasteful for some as well. If you view the film in that way, I can completely understand that, but I found nearly every aspect of this movie riveting.
Something that was concerning me before going in was how Waititi would handle the comedic and dramatic elements of the story, because it is without a doubt one of the most fascinating concepts in cinema in years. I was blown away, however, by the fact that Waititi really did manage to make a film that was both hilarious while also having some incredibly emotional moments as well.
When the jokes come, they almost always land. One minute you might be laughing, and the next you might be thrilled and even sad. It is one of the most impressively written films of the year, and it further cements Waititi is an immensely talented screenwriter, and his direction is also fabulous.
This movie tackles some incredibly powerful, thought-provoking, and important messages and themes that took me by complete surprise. The main characters here are incredibly well-developed, and I loved the journey that they went on as the story progressed. Although side characters do not get much to do here, Waititi ensures that characters have arcs, especially Davis’ titular character.
Speaking of Roman Griffin Davis, his performance was remarkable. I would even go as far as to say that his performance was one of the best performances of the entire year, and it is made all the more impressive when you know that he is just twelve years old. He delivers every line of dialogue perfectly and he is clearly a natural talent. My fingers are crossed that he gets even more film roles down the line because he is most certainly a talent to look out for.
But it’s not only Davis that delivers a great performance here. All of the other actors do terrific jobs in their roles as well, most notably Scarlett Johansson as Jojo’s mother Rosie. Her acting was really strong and her character was one that I was always interested in. Also amazing is Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa Korr. Her character is the one that we always root for and she is given some truly great scenes here. McKenzie, only nineteen, has already been in big movies such as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Leave No Trace, and The King, and with her performance here, she further proves how talented she is. This year, she will star in the upcoming Last Night in Soho, which should (hopefully) be a delightful treat.
Jojo Rabbit also contains some utterly gorgeous cinematography by Mihai Mălaimare Jr., with many of the shots being framed in terrific ways. There really is no dull shot to be found in this movie, and it is accompanied with a great score from Michael Giacchino and impressive editing by Tom Eagles.
All in all, this is a film that has something to say, and it was so powerful. Waititi’s latest feature is one that I hope more people will see and more people will talk about, because I genuinely do feel like it is one of the best movies of the year, and definitely deserves some awards.
Jojo Rabbit manages to blend comedy and drama perfectly thanks to a brilliant script from Taika Waititi and a phenomenal cast.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence, and language
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: October 18, 2019 (United States)
Running Time: 108 minutes