I’m not sure it’s possible to say the best film of the year is released in cinemas on January 1st, but Jojo Rabbit is going to feature on many Best of 2020 lists.
The new film from writer/director Taika Waititi is almost perfect in every way: incredibly funny, touching, heartbreaking and really well acted.
The story follows Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a lonely boy in Nazi Germany living with his single mother (Scarlett Johansson). Jojo doesn’t have many friends apart from fellow Hitler Youth Yorki (a scene stealing Archie Yates) and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Waititi). Jojo’s mother has secrets, including hiding Elsa, a Jewish girl, in their home.
As Jojo decides whether to reveal his mother’s deception, he slowly begins to befriend Elsa and realise much of what he has been told about Jewish people is very wrong.
Now, I know it seems strange to watch a film featuring Adolf Hitler and laugh – but Waititi’s version is so ridiculous and stupid that you find yourself almost forgetting who the character is and instead laughing at what the character is.
Griffin Davis holds the film together as Jojo and he’s ably assisted as Johansson as his mother. Also a special mention for Sam Rockwell turning in another awards-worthy performance as Captain Klenzendorf, who turns out to be very different to what you might think.
One of the great feats Waititi has pulled off with this film is that while you’re laughing at the ridiculousness of certain characters, a change of tone kicks you in the stomach when you’re least expecting it. It’s handled brilliantly by both actor and director and that for me is what makes Jojo Rabbit rise high above a silly comedy.
Jojo Rabbit will certainly be on my best films of 2020 list. I urge you to see it too.