Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★★

The farther away I get from it, the more I find myself questioning some of its pleasures. The point that it ultimately makes is pretty simple: that a lot of hate is thin and unfounded. It's almost just a consequence of civilization, the fear of the Other systematized into societies, turning racism into a sense of self-preservation. A genuine encounter with the Other is all it really takes to make that all crash down. The film just takes this to the most extreme context: a Hitler-worshipping youth in the tail end of World War II, who finds out that his beloved mother has taken in a Jewish girl and is hiding her.

There are some sequences that really gave me pause, particularly ones that give voice to the hate. The movie makes it clear that it's making fun of all this, that it thinks it's ridiculous. But it does feel like it isn't being particularly artful about it. It takes irony for granted, and doesn't always go much further in exploring the way that these hateful sentiments affect people, no matter how absurd.

But in the end, I do find myself drawn to the movie's extreme sense of empathy, no matter how shaky it ends up making things. It isn't so much about redemption, as it is mostly about how tribalism makes victims of us all. It's certainly something to keep in mind when this current wave of awfulness finally washes away, and we're still left with just normal people who got swept up in that awfulness, who said and did awful things in deference to the powerful and influential folk who gave them something to believe in.