James (Schaffrillas)’s review published on Letterboxd:
"What did they do?"
"What they could."
I sobbed all the way through the credits. I couldn't even begin to compose myself. I was absolutely shaken to my core. And once I was able to find my footing and exit the theater, the first thing I did was buy a ticket to see it again.
Jojo Rabbit is a story of overcoming blind fanaticism and indoctrination, showcasing that monsters aren't born; they're made. They're manipulated. The transition Waititi's Adolf Hitler goes through over the course of the movie, from quirky companion to the furious, foaming-at-the-mouth espouser of hatred we know him as, illustrates the inner turmoil Jojo experiences as he grows to defy his twisted "conscience".
This is supported immensely by the fact that Roman Griffin Davis is an absolute star in the making. He nails every single comedic beat and dramatic moment with equal mastery. The performances are exceptionally great across the board, with Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johansson being the two strongest supporting players. Both work wonders in their roles (and tragically share the screen too infrequently), providing Jojo with a more optimistic view on life than the twisted version he was taught.
The buffoonery of the Nazis is a point of contention among many reviewers, and their disdain for this aspect of the film is not unwarranted. However, I thought they were sufficiently portrayed as evil fanatics and that the jokes at their expense were accordingly funny. The comedy mostly worked for me; for every joke or visual gag that didn't land, there were five more that made me chortle both times I watched the film.
But shockingly, the sheer dramatic heft of the movie was its strongest attribute. I can't remember a film that moved me to tears to the same extent as this one. Jojo simply was an innocent boy indoctrinated into a worldview of hatred; he didn't deserve to be, and the rift between he and his mother was palpable and raw. Then we got to THAT scene, which has already cemented itself as one of my favorites in all of cinema.
Visuals, motifs, lines of dialogue, etc. are expertly reincorporated over the course of the movie, but nothing holds a candle to the magnificence of the ending, which is a strong contender for being my all-time favorite. Equal parts quirky, brilliant, and beautiful, it left me laughing and sobbing simultaneously, all while I came to the realization that no one else could have done what Taika did with this film. This is the masterpiece he was destined to make.
To summarize, Jojo Rabbit isn't a movie about the Holocaust. It isn't about the many atrocities committed by the Nazi party. It is simply about one little boy's journey to reject evil and allow love to triumph over hatred. This is what it chooses to be, and this is how I'm judging it. And to say it succeeds would be an understatement. It's the kind of movie that I'm never going to forget as long as I live; something so ludicrous, and yet, so unflinchingly honest.