Seventy-five years since the Second World War, the new Nazi satire film from Thor Ragnorak director Taika Waititi premiered yesterday at the Toronto Film Festival to surprisingly positive reviews.
The Collider billed it “the sweetest, funniest film about Nazis you’ll ever see”, praising its big heart and the deft way in which it makes “the Nazis look small”.
Starring acting novice Roman Griffin Davis, the film centres on 10-year-old Hitler Youth member Jojo, who is so infatuated by the Nazi ideology, that his imaginary best friend is Hitler. The local Nazis are played by Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant.
When Jojo injures himself with his hand grenade and is forced to stay at home with his mother (Scarlett Johansson), he discovers she is hiding a young Jewish woman Elsa. The pair strike up a friendship, much to the displeasure of imaginary Hitler. The film’s intrigue is led by Jojo’s ensuing moral conflict, and becomes a lesson in the perils of fascism.
Some reviewers weren’t as impressed, however. “The cartoon Nazis in Jojo Rabbit are so far removed from reality that they make it all too easy to laugh off the circumstances at hand. That’s not only crass but disingenuous… Nazis weren’t just a bunch of dopey chumps…” wrote IndieWire’s critic, while Variety’s criticised the film for “playing it safe” with a “Mean Girls version of Hitler.”