Comedy (or humour), as the adage goes, equals tragedy plus time; and this does open up artistic and political possibilities in terms of deploying ironic, absurdist, darkly humorous portrayals of subjects that demand seriousness in the “present”. Furthermore, movies have also, over the years, chronicled horrors and devastations through the eyes of kids – from Germany Year Zero, Ivan’s Childhood and Cria Cuervos to Life is Beautiful, Pan’s Labyrinth and Turtles Can Fly. However, if this combination borders on flippant, shallow and simplistic, sacrificing complexity for cuteness and easy guffaws, and is filled with easy sentimentality and pat humanism, for a subject as dark and monstrous as the Holocaust, things can get squeaky and problematic, even if there’re loads of whimsy and playful ingenuity. That, in short, defines Taiki Watiti’s “anti-hate satire” Jojo Rabbit. That it was moderately engaging, had funny moments and was based on an interesting premise with a lot of potential, is beside the point. The film’s protagonist is 10-year old Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a Nazi fanatic and member of the Hitler Youth living with her mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) during the last days of WWII. His mother is part of the Resistance and hence is mostly out; his father’s at the Italian front; he’s often bullied for his lack of ability to inflict cruelty; and he has an imaginary friend in the form of a goofy Hitler (Watiti). His rabid love for anything Nazi, however, hits a strange roadblock when he finds Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), a 16-year old Jewish girl, hidden in their home; and, despite his preconceived notion about Jews courtesy the propaganda all around him, he starts developing a crush for her.
Director: Taika Waititi
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Political Satire