Taika Waititi is best known to audiences for his unique comedic sensibilities, but what makes Jojo Rabbit such a fascinating movie for the filmmaker is the way in which it balances tonal extremes. Being a satire that features the writer/director playing an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, there are many incredibly funny scenes, but they are brilliantly intertwined with dramatic and horrific moments of reality that creep in.
What the film does in this respect is fascinating, but that’s not only a viewpoint coming from this audience member – it’s also a sentiment that I recently learned is also shared by really the entire cast:
Earlier this month I went to the Los Angeles press day for Jojo Rabbit, and while sitting down with Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Roman Griffin Davis, Stephen Merchant, Sam Rockwell, and Alfie Allen one aspect of the movie I asked all of them about was Taika Waititi’s approach to tone. And while they had different perspectives on it, at the end of it all it was an aspect of the film that impressed all.
For Scarlett Johansson – who plays the mother of the titular Jojo, an imaginative, naïve child swept up in the Nazi movement during World War II in Germany – the specialness of Jojo Rabbit and it’s approach to both humor and dark drama was something that she recognized even before production started and she read Taika Waititi’s script. She admitted that just briefly describing the plot of the film makes it sound a bit odd, but that she knew from the start that it was a balancing act that the movie would be able to pull off:
Continuing, she noted that the way that you read a script doesn’t always perfectly translate to what you wind up seeing in the finished cut of any given film, but she never doubted the skills of Taika Waititi to adapt the material. Said Johansson,
In contrast, Stephen Merchant, who plays a committed Nazi who conducts house-by-house searches for Jews in hiding, wasn’t fully sure how it was all going to play out until he actually saw the finished film – but then he was in absolute awe of its genius. He may not have been able to fully conceive of Taika Waititi’s singular vision for Jojo Rabbit when he was on set, but he was floored by it when he saw how it came together:
Further adding to the compliments, Stephen Merchant – who notably co-created the legendary series The Office – and this incredible thing to say about his Jojo Rabbit director:
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.