This discordant pastiche has an air of effrontery about it as provocative as it may seem; a poignancy nevertheless, is prevalent amidst all the flightiness from grasping at a certain kind of comes to blind nationalism.
Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) displays a sure handed chicanery in his Jojo Rabbit as the Polynesian/Jewish writer/director embraces a sizable shift connected to Nazism which could be likened to the more heartfelt and highly regarded Roberto Benigni feature Life is Beautiful.
A lighthearted fairytale whimsy is evident with less subtlety than a Wes Anderson picture as a couple of his (Moonrise Kingdom) are recalled during this quirky, If unafraid cinematic example. Set presumably in an unnamed German hamlet during the latter part of World War II.
Roman Griffin Davis is the surprising prepubescent Third Reich fanatic linchpin here as Johannes or shortened to Jojo whose mother Rose (Scarlett Johansson of Avengers Endgame) who spend a weekend at an event run by Capt. Klenzendorf ( a witty Sam Rockwell of recent small-screen success Fosse/Verdon among many other films) with goofy sidekicks as played by Rebel Wilson and Alfie Allen.
Jojo inherits the titular nickname when his disposition to dispatch at older peers behest comes into questions. A closeness to his make-believe companion, Adolph (Waititi in a frisky, frolicking turn spouting out anachronistic words/phrases at times) is persistent. The script, then pivots on an injured Jojo returning home to find his mother concealing Jewish teen Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) behind a wall of the room of his deceased sister. Elsa isn’t quite the fearsome individual that has been ingrained into the 10-year-old lad.
It’s curious shy the Fuhrer keeps offering Jojo cigarettes, but it may be part of the agitational, pungent nature of support an anti-hate message with plenty of heil Hitlers. So, the laughter may not come so smoothly knowing what it takes to follow a rabble-rouser down a perfidious rabble hole. Connotations to timely hot-button items might make an artsy venture like this more compatible with those current to them. The manner in which a gambol is rendered with efficiency and polish comes down to the compromise of the emotions regarding the cause and how it’s professed.
Still, the filmmaking allows the performers to hop through the changing scenery with gusto, outrageous and trenchant when necessary. Waititi does manage a risky character with a certain zany aplomb as the reliance on Davis pays off in an energetically, bright portrait, responding well to the demands of the script and nearly occupying every frame. Johansson is creditable in a stimulating, somewhat deceptive nonchalance. Yet for what is predicated on the sudden McKenzie delivers an accommodating coltishness alongside her younger, simpatico content Jojo from losing its crowd-pleasing statue.