What happens when you find a 10-year-old boy with Adolf Hitler as their imaginary friend? Jojo Rabbit.
I will try my best to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. However, some slight points to the plot may be needed. I will forewarn any that appear!
Johannes Betzler, Jojo Rabbit, is a young boy with a blind fanaticism in his country’s, and its leader’s, belief in superiority. To such an extent, that he happily participates in the Hitler Youth movement. This does not go as he planned. When he’s unable to kill anything on command he faces humiliation and receives his nickname. If he can’t kill a rabbit, how would they expect him to fight in the war?
Jojo’s biggest challenge arrives when he finds a young Jewish girl living within the walls of his house. Worried that turning her in may cause problems for his mum and himself, he attempts to learn about the Jewish race in an attempt to find their weaknesses.
Jojo Rabbit Review
I loved this film. I thought that the portrayals of the characters were well executed, although the accents wavered. It was a different way of looking at this time period. However, as much as I enjoyed the film, I did find it difficult to see Jojo’s view of what Jewish people and their behaviour were used for comedic effect. In 2020 the stories being spread sound ludicrous, but it’s important to remember that millions of people were demonised by the propaganda touted in Nazi Germany.
Although it can be jarring to laugh at something like this. I think it was important to see the type of propaganda used at this time. Some people might suggest that this type of film, or any type of film, is not the right place to showcase this. But I think it’s something that people often forget. The indoctrination wasn’t only for the adults. The alienation of certain sections of German citizens was thought out to target those most susceptible to believing what they are told.
The Hitler Criticism
Jojo Rabbit displays Hitler as an almost caricature version of the real person. This is something that a lot of people have complained about. Honestly, if you don’t understand, even from the trailers, that this is a figment of a 10-year-old’s imagination, I don’t know why you watched it. This portrayal could not have been further from realistic. If anything, the whimsy nature of the character was designed to give as little power as possible to the real person.
This film’s intention was not to be serious. From my viewing, its aim was to challenge perceptions. To challenge perceptions from the eyes of a child. This is why I think this film is so brilliant. It has been able to tackle a really difficult subject matter and show how people can be wrong without overtly alienating anyone.
Overall, this is a film that I would watch again and again. The nuances behind the motivations of each character gave it a depth that wasn’t visible from the trailers alone. I urge anyone who has the chance to go and see this film. Or, if you can’t get to a cinema in time wait until it’s released on one of the many streaming sites!
Hasta la Fuego