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Jojo Rabbit Movie Review – Satire in the time of war

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Taika Waititi’s latest feature, “Jojo Rabbit” aspires to lay waste on wartime Germany and Hitler without any mercy by juggling between comical satire and hard hitting Nazi criticism. The film is about 10-year old Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), a Hitler fanatic and a budding Nazi who aspires to be in Hitler’s personal guard one day. He is assisted by his manifestation of a comical Adolf Hitler, brilliantly portrayed by Taika Watiti who is Jewish in real life. 

But despite his unwavering ‘patriotism’ and passion, Jojo Betzler quickly became an outcast in the Hitler Youth camp where his superiors mocked him for his failure to kill a defenseless rabbit hence his nickname- “Jojo Rabbit”. In an attempt to overcome this discomposure, Jojo gets in over his head during a routine grenade-throwing exercise at the bidding of his imaginary Dictator friend, ending up with a damaged leg and a scarred face, much to the distaste of his Nazi compatriots. 

Seeking respite from the ongoing turmoil, Jojo found solace in his best friend Yorki at the youth training camp and his mother Rosie played by Scarlett Johansson. His mother Rosie is a different German breed altogether. She despises war. Where Hitler was Jojo’s negative conscience influencing him with the Nazi ideals, his mother Rosie was the good conscience reminding him of the fruitless endeavours of war and the beauty of love and dance. Jojo disregards her for the most of the time, for his imaginary Hitler had impregnated his infant mind and his mother’s victory came only after her death in the film’s most emotionally-defining moment.

Halfway through the first act of the film, Jojo strikes gold- by discovering a Jew girl, Elsa seeking refuge inside the walls of the house. He strikes a deal with her where he will protect her existence from the Gestapo and in return she will provide him with all the information about Jews for his book- “Yoohoo Jew”. Over the course of time Jojo and Elsa bond with the former eventually having a crush on Elsa. They stick together throughout, even with the Gestapo knocking at their door. 

Jojo Rabbit aspires to take you through a wild emotional spectrum. It starts off as a satirical take on the Nazi Regime with a comical dictator at its helm, but as the film progresses, it hits you with emotional turmoils of the people back at home way behind the frontlines. The protagonist, Jojo grows and evolves over the course of time as he realises the truth in his mother’s words and shunning out his Nazi friend in a defining moment as he says, “Fuck you Hitler”, kicking him into the abyss. He forms a valuable and endearing friendship with Elsa which tears down his devilish perceptions about the persecuted religion. In the final scene, both reach their emotional climax as they break into a dance during the aftermath of the war, opening up new avenues.

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