“Jojo Rabbit” was the last movie nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars that I hadn’t seen yet. Now I’ve seen them all. While none in particular blew me away and was the hands-down best film of the year, I still stand by my pick of “1917.” I was put off initially by what I heard about the movie and its comedic style. World War II + Nazis + Comedy = good movie?
I think I struggled with the comedy aspect of the film a bit at first, but this movie made you laugh and dance and cry. There was a full range of emotions evoked making it stand out as a different kind of movie that had a different kind of message. The movie was decidedly an anti-war movie, and poked fun at Adolf Hitler and the Hitler Youth in ridiculous ways. What was sad about the movie was that though director Taika Waititi made fun of the prosperous sounding ways that the Nazis would brainwash kids, it was not fiction, and some of the youth programs were not as ludicrous as the over-the-top film made them out to be.
The story centers around a boy, Jojo, played by Roman Griffin Davis, and his mother, Rosie, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, and the ways they are active in the “war effort” in Germany during World War II. Jojo, a Hitler Youth, has Hitler (played by Waititi) like a devil on his shoulder, building up his confidence in his pro-Nazi pursuits, faces off with his mother Rosie, a covert, resistance fighter, who houses Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), a Jewish teenager, who is all alone in the world in a need of a safe place to hide.
The writing in the film was superb and its no wonder that it won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Besides being selected as a nominee for Best Picture, Taika Waititi was nominated for Best Director. Scarlett Johansson was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Other nominations the film received included Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, and Best Film Editing.
Scarlett Johansson’s performance was phenomenal per usual, but I also enjoyed the sparring between Davis (Jojo) and McKenzie (Elsa), who as kids going through this horrible thing called war, on opposing sides, close-up come to see one another as human and begin to each have empathy for one another.
Brené Brown has a saying that goes something like, “It’s hard to hate someone up close.” If you have a disagreement with someone, it’s easy to get together with people in your group of friends who all think like you and bash someone else, what is much harder is to bash someone to their face, and the hardest thing (and usually most necessary) is to talk to someone you disagree with, not to convince of why you are right, but instead, to understand their point of view.
I definitely recommend adding this film to your queue if you haven’t seen it yet. It was a beautiful movie with a positive message about a horrible time in history.