The film follows Jojo Betzier (Roman Griffin Davis), a young German boy looking to be the ‘best’ young Nazi he can possibly be, with the help of his imaginary friend – Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi, director). Jojo soon discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in the attic, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie). He must choose between exposing Elsa to the authorities or keeping it to himself to save his mother and himself from prosecution.
While trying to discover all there is to be a Jew, Jojo soon develops a special bond with Elsa, like no other. His blinding romanticism of Nazism is overthrown by his discovery of true friendship, as he soon discovers that the war isn’t worth fighting when the consequences are destruction of the thing he has grown so closely with. Davis delivers a stunning portrayal of an ultimately vulnerable young boy, whose life has been written by a fantasy in his own mind.
Accompanied with wonderful music, the performances of other actors bring together one of the best films I have ever seen. One minute you’ll laugh out loud, the next you’ll cry. It really is a masterpiece. Some critics have been quick to diminish its credibility, claiming it to be anti-Semitic and failing to show Hitler’s darkest characteristics. The viewer has to remember that this Adolf Hitler is in a 10-year-old boy’s imagination. But more importantly, this film isn’t about Hitler. It is about a young boy’s naïve outlook on the small world he believes to exist, while his brave mother champions freedom and fights fascism and a young Jewish girl fearlessly hides away from those set out to kill her.
It comes at a time when war is fading from people’s memories. Its deep-rooted message of self-discovery, friendship and love shows that war is never the right thing to pursue. Taika Waititi has produced a film of diverse themes and one which should remain a favourite for years to come.