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Jojo Rabbit


Stars: Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Archie Yates, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen

Director: Taika Waititi

After an hour of politically incorrect fun, Waititi's film takes on a much darker hue. Tragedy overcomes comedy in the most moving of ways.

Jojo Betzler (Griffin Davis) is a 10-year-old boy in Germany towards the end of WW2. Unable to kill a rabbit - thus his nickname - his faltering career in the Hitler Youth movement comes to an abrupt end when he blows himself up after a grenade he's thrown rebounds from a tree.

Facially scarred, and now with a gammy leg, Jojo consoles himself in conversations with his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (played by the director) - rather like Woody Allen with 'Humphrey Bogart' in Play It Again, Sam

'He's a little fanatic,' says his mother (Johansson). 'It took him three weeks to get over the fact that his grandfather was not blond'. Secretly, Mrs Betzler is working for the anti-Nazi underground, and hiding a young Jewess (McKenzie) in the attic - a secret that Jojo soon discovers.

The scene in which Capt Klenzendorf (Rockwell, on the mark again) orders German Shepherd dogs, and gets real German shepherds was one of many that made me laugh, but it's pretty much the last joke in a film that's about to display its (very) serious side.

First-time actor Griffin Davis - nominated for a Golden Globe - is brilliant as Jojo, and New Zealander McKenzie is also solid as the fugitive girl whose life becomes involved with his. They help to ensure that this extraordinarily original film is one that succeeds on all levels, sidesplitting one moment and heartbreaking the next.

David Quinlan

Czech Republic/USA/New Zealand 2019. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour by Company 3.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 24 Dec 2019