Written & Directed by Taika Waititi
Based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens
Starring Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, & Scarlett Johansson
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Running Time: 1hr 48min
During WWII, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Davis), a Hitler Youth finds out his mother (Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (McKenzie) in their attic. He must then question his beliefs, while dealing with the intervention of his imaginary friend, an idiotic version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi).
I was sold the moment I heard the premise! I’ve seen a couple other Taika Waititi films (Eagle vs Shark, Boy, and Thor: Ragnarok) and enjoyed them all. Apparently some are criticizing the Nazis being portrayed as buffoons, but come on! That’s the whole point of satire! And Nazis are supposed to be the one villain we don’t sympathize with!
Other complaints include having there be nice Nazis because of the current current climate of white nationalism in America. To that I say bullshit! There were Nazis who had no idea what has happening to the Jews being sent off to camps. Nationalism back then was something you basically had to be part of or you were seen as someone not contributing or that you didn’t care about your country; it was very much about peer pressure. But today it is very much a choice! You are choosing to be an ignorant, bigoted asshole in a time when it is way easier to get information. This movie is amazing! It’s a fantastic combination of funny, satirical, tense, and even tragic. If lead actor Roman Griffith Davis plans to keep acting, he definitely has a promising career. He manages to convey a lot, from a bright eyed little fanatic ready to do what he can for the führer, to someone forced to grow up too soon by the horrors of war.
The rest of the supporting cast does a great job too, Rockwell hilarious as a disenchanted soldier in charge of children, Johansson as a mother trying to do what’s right, McKenzie as the young Jewish girl who bonds with Jojo and his mother, Wilson as a quippy fraulein, and Waitit properly hams it up as Hitler but at times also manages some menace when Jojo is questioning the Nazi ideology. The writing is sharp and delivered perfectly, the use of contemporary music (sung in German) has a nice juxtaposition to the things going on, the directing is confident, the costumes on point, and the film is shot so beautifully! I particularly love how the film starts out colorful and bright, but things start to mute as the war goes on and innocence is lost. So yeah, absolutely you should see this movie!
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