Based on the novel CAGING SKIES by Christine Leunen, JOJO RABBIT (2019) is an amazing film about the clash of ideals versus grim reality, how hate becomes truth through propaganda, and the absurdity of programmed and institutional hate. I absolutely loved this one and highly recommend it.
It’s the latter half of 1944, and Nazi Germany is on the defensive. In a German city, 10-year-old JoJo Betzler has joined the Hitler Youth and wants to be an ideal Nazi, supported by his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler. When he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic, he gradually questions his beliefs until rejecting the war, hate, and Hitler.
The film is best described as a comedy-drama, with both aspects presented to excellent effect thanks to director Taika Waititi, who also plays the hilarious and buffoonish Hitler. The comedy and drama work well together, highlighting the absurdity of Nazism while exposing the menace and horror of living under the Nazi regime, reinforcing rather than undermining each other. The overall effect is honest, without being overtly preachy, giving JoJo empathy when he’s at his most idealistic about Hitler, and giving him time to question his beliefs and realize Nazism is evil. The great sets, characters, directing, and cast bring it all together in one of the year’s strongest films.