Re­view of Re­views JoJo Rabbit

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - | CRITICS’ CHOICE - Wash­ing­ton Post New Yorker

This is a film that dares you not to en­joy its ma­te­rial plea­sures, even as you wonder if you should be laugh­ing quite so hard at the jokes. Silly, bouncy and jam-packed with the most of­fen­sive anti-Semitic tropes this side of The Pro­to­cols of the El­ders of Zion, Jojo Rabbit is a con­stant bait-and-switch, as its naive young hero suc­cumbs with gung-ho goofi­ness to the un­speak­able costs of blind loy­alty and then, grad­u­ally, be­gins to snap out of his na­tion’s mass psy­chosis.

Jojo Rabbit, al­though set in the past, puts for­ward a po­lit­i­cal idea in the present tense. The film is be­ing mar­keted as “an anti-hate satire”, and for once, ad­ver­tis­ing is truth­ful. The movie is not sub­stan­tially about Nazi Ger­many but uses it as an al­le­gory for cur­rent-day ex­pres­sions and pol­i­tics of ha­tred. Waititi dis­plays a sort of wan hu­man­ism in which Jojo’s fa­nat­i­cal Nazism seems ex­cus­able, or at least un­der­stand­able. No less than Joker, Jojo Rabbit is an­other con­trivance on the theme of “hurt peo­ple hurt peo­ple”.

How to de­scribe the brand of com­edy served up by Waititi in this markedly odd film? It’s by turns rude, flip­pant and ag­gres­sive, some­times laced with clever word­play and not overly sen­ti­men­tal, ei­ther with the kids or at the end, de­spite the built-in po­ten­tial for it. He man­i­festly loves to show off his clev­er­ness, to pose, to grand­stand. Still, as did Chap­lin, he leaves plenty of room on this oc­ca­sion for his young co-star to ex­cel and fully re­main at the cen­tre of the story.

Some ar­gue such comic treat­ment of sto­ries from the Holo­caust is never ac­cept­able. Others sug­gest Jojo Rabbit is just not funny enough to make the risk worth­while. Noth­ing is more sub­jec­tive than com­edy, but the of­ten broad, some­times sly satire worked through­out for this writer.

It takes noth­ing from the hor­ror to point out that it springs from id­iocy. The manic tone, sug­ges­tive of Wes An­der­son with a screw loose, re­flects a child’s per­spec­tive with­out im­ply­ing any triv­i­al­i­sa­tion of the wider his­tory. and Rim­sky-Kor­sakov’s String Sex­tet in A at 1pm. And the fi­nal con­cert, of Mozart’s String Quin­tet in D, K593, Hin­demith’s Clar­inet Quin­tet and Tchaikovsk­y’s Sou­venir de Florence, is in the New­man Univer­sity Church on St Stephen’s Green at 4.30pm.

RTÉ NSO/George Jack­son Na­tional Con­cert Hall, New­man

PHO­TO­GRAPH: LARRY HORRICKS/ TWENTIETH CEN­TURY FOX

Sam Rock­well, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son and Ro­man Grif­fin Davis in Jojo Rabbit.

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