Well, would you look at that. Turns out that when I rarely write on my website, a trailer posted for a movie back in early September has just a single post separating it from my reaction to that same movie at the end of October. C’est la vie.
I absolutely loved this film. I really wanted to love it, and I did.
Once, a friend and I were talking about a movie I really wanted to love, then loved. He said it wasn’t surprising, because by wanting to love it so much, I was pretty much going to love it regardless of what it was like. The opposite of this is actually true for me. In reality, it happens all the time that I dislike something I was hoping to love. I just take the disappointment harder than normal — like, irrationally hard — when an artist I love creates something I genuinely dislike. Emily and I joked that I’m going to need significant time to recover when I don’t like something Taika does.
All that to say, I didn’t love Jojo Rabbit just because I really wanted to love Jojo Rabbit.
In some ways, it felt like peak Taika Waititi. So many of his sensibilities and strengths distilled down to their purest form, then amplified by the cultural context he’s responding to.
It has all the winsomeness and joy Taika is known for. It’s expectedly hilarious. It’s populated by a bunch of delightful weirdos. Yet, as should be expected in a story about Nazi Germany, it goes some much darker, more heartbreaking places than his previous work.
I love when art makes me want to be a better person. Fiction can inspire us to be more empathetic (that’s actually been researched and turns out to be true and not just wishful thinking by us reading nerds). It can carve out room for us to grow our capacity to be better people. It can give us a space to practice and imagine where we can participate with the good things and reject the bad. This movie did that for me.
I’ll avoid spoilers in this post, but here are my initial spoiler-free takeaways from Jojo Rabbit: Do what you can. Hold fast to love and hope, especially in the darkest times. Be brave and be kind. Fight hate and fear in all its forms. And always remember to dance.