Jojo Rabbit (dir. Taika Waititi, 2019) – Ten-year-old Johannes, who serves in the Hitler Youth, discovers a Jewish girl hiding behind the walls of his home.
Fictionalising real life tragedies has its risks. The slightest bit of fantasy can seem misplaced or at worst, irreverent. Even dramatised versions of the truth, like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, have been called exploitative. What more for those who attempt humour against the backdrop of a towering death toll?
That in mind, Jojo Rabbit comes off as the work of a madman. It opens with a ten-year-old Johannes (Roman Griffin Davis), shouting on about his allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Taika Waititi responds with exaggerated impressions and funny faces, decked up in full Nazi wear as Hitler himself and imaginary friend to the young nationalist.
Is it ever okay to joke about the Nazis? It feels just a little inappropriate to smile. Somehow, the satire manages to find a way to balance dark humour and difficult sensitivities. Every bit of mockery is aimed at the people, behaviour, and ideology who deserve it the most. The result is absurd, charming, sad, and moving all at once.