Fox Searchlight has released the first clip from Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire Jojo Rabbit, which recently won the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. I saw the film two weeks ago and thought it was beautiful, but I’m not so sure this clip would convince me to buy a ticket.
Roman Griffin Davis stars as Jojo, who admires Adolf Hitler and considers him a personal friend, albeit an imaginary one. The boy repeats Hitler’s anti-Semitic propaganda without even knowing what it means. He’s just happy to be part of a club, even if that club is the Nazi Party. What Jojo doesn’t know, but will soon learn, is that his mother (Scarlett Johnasson) is hiding a young Jewish woman named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their house, which forces the boy to confront his fears and face the truth about Jewish people — that they’re just like everyone else.
This new clip hints at the crush that Jojo develops for Elsa, but he can’t let his mother know that he’s aware of their hidden houseguest. The clip also showcases the affectionate relationship that Jojo has with his mother, who is raising the boy on her own. Jojo Rabbit has many strengths, including its energy and personality, but unfortunately, in this particular clip, you don’t really get a feel for that. I just simply wouldn’t have led with this clip, but I understand that the mother-son relationship is crucial to the film, and the jokey Nazi stuff may have been too off-putting out of context.
While Jojo Rabbit will certainly have its detractors, the fact that it won the ‘Audience Award’ in Toronto is a strong sign it will be a major player this awards season, and that those who give the movie a chance fall in love with it, for the most part. The empathetic film has drawn divisive reviews thus far, but those who fall for its unique charms really love it.
We’ll have to wait and see if Jojo Rabbit earns a Best Picture nomination, but the last People’s Choice Winner not to land an Oscar nod in the category was 2011’s Lebanese film Where Do We Go Now? — so I like its odds. Waititi’s latest film hits theaters on October 18. Watch the clip below.