Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★★★

Jojo Rabbit is magnificently jaw-dropping. Taika Waititi’s satirical dramedy is an emotional powerhouse and one of the funniest movies in years. It's a movie that reminds me just why I love cinema, and what inspired me in the first place to ever see movies; to take us to places as we've never seen them before and to be moved in such a manner that hours later I am still shaking from what I've seen.

Waititi's story, brilliantly adapted from a novel by Christine Leunens, is perfectly told, knowing just when to pepper in a great joke or let a moment linger for the maximum impact. His direction has never been more on-point, with his twisted version of Nazi Germany having the small bit of hope that makes the perfect fit for his latest misfit lead.

Said lead, Jojo, is exquisitely portrayed by Roman Griffin Davis, in his first film. It has become a cliche to say a new child actor is a discovery, but it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Jojo. He wholly embodies it in every way, and his acting is what sells the movie for the most part. If you don't root for Jojo, the entire film falls apart, but luckily, he is a hero despite his beliefs and just thinking about moments of his performance can get me to tear up.

Indeed, the entire ensemble is used well. McKenzie is charming, instantly sympathetic while also having a hint of mischief within her. Elsa's interactions with Jojo make up the heart of the movie, and they are perfect matches for each other. Johansson gives a delightfully warm performance, and of course, Waititi himself as Adolf Hitler is very funny. The depth to how the Hitler imaginary friend concept is used is excellent, and yet, it never feels overused. The biggest highlight in the supporting cast is surprisingly Sam Rockwell. He is unequivocally hysterical in this, giving the best comedic performance I've ever seen by him. His Nazi captain is equally terrifying along with being very silly, but like everything here, it toes the line wonderfully and works.

Indeed, the biggest wonder of the film is how well it toes that line. It can go from making you cry through your laughter and laugh through your tears within a single instant, but never feels tonally jarring. As previously mentioned, Waititi has never been more in control of his tone. The tension, comedic or dramatic, can be so incredibly taut, until Waititi cuts through it causing pure catharsis. The entire film is a miraculous balancing act that builds and builds until the perfect finale.

When the credits rolled on Jojo Rabbit, I found myself utterly in tears while smiling one of the widest smiles I can remember having. Taika Waititi has made his best film yet, the best film of 2019 so far and one of the best films of the decade. It gets to the heart of the power of love in a world of hate, being thoroughly incendiary while never forgetting the basic desires of humanity and what it means to grow up in a confusing world. Tears and laughter flow throughout but by the end, the story of Jojo and Elsa is completely necessary, remarkably unique, and perfectly told. Simply put, it is unquestionably a masterpiece. Absolutely floored.

TIFF19 #10

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