I have been meaning to get around to reviewing Jojo Rabbit (2019) for a while now, aside from a brief overview of some the film costumes from our 2019 FIDM exhibit coverage. It’s one of those films that takes a very serious topic (World War II) and injects just enough surreal humor to make the otherwise deeply depressing subject matter enjoyable.
Directed by Taika Waititi, and costumed by Mayes C. Rubio (who is currently wrapping up the last bit of WandaVision), the film is set in Germany during the waning months of World War II. The action is told through the point of view of Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, a 10-year-old member of the Hitler Youth, whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler (played by Waititi). Jojo’s beloved mother is Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), who he has a close bond with after the death of his father. Jojo believes Rosie is as devoted to the Third Reich as he is, but in reality, she is secretly working in the Resistance and hiding a young Jewish girl, Elsa, in their attic. Jojo is horrified when he learns that his mother has betrayed the Führer and is forced to grapple with the reality of who his parents really were after tragedy strikes. As he begins to get to know Elsa better, realizing she isn’t some lizard person who lays eggs and shoots fireballs from her eyes (yes, really), his imaginary pal Hitler starts to morph from silly and funny into something monstrous.
The film overall is beautiful and tragic and uplifting and hysterically funny and deadly serious all wrapped up into a thoroughly enjoyable 1 hour and 48 minutes. I am not a huge fan of WWII films, but I’ve watched this one several times since it first came out, and it easily is one of my favorite recent historical flicks of the last couple of years.
Did you watch Jojo Rabbit? Tell us about it in the comments!