I first watched Jojo Rabbit this past Tuesday, the 18th, the day it was released on physical media. I wrote my review of it two days later and gave it a resounding A (you can put an invisible ‘+’ after it. ‘A’ is the highest grade I’ll ever give (that’s the douchebag college professor in me talking).).
Now it’s Saturday the 22nd and I just can’t stop thinking about this movie. My goal with ToomStone is to publish blogs as frequently as I can. Why not blog whatever is going through your head? Blog about it while it’s still fresh! And if Jojo Rabbit won’t get a cinematic sequel, I’ll just blog a sequel!
So, Jojo Rabbit 2, here we go…
In my first review, I singled out Scarlett and Taika for praise. But there was so much I didn’t cover. I barely mentioned Elsa, the Jewish girl. Hell, I barely mentioned the main character. The crux of the whole story is Jojo’s three relationships and how they develop overtime: One with his mother, the other with his imaginary friend, and finally the one with his captive. I already covered the first two. The third is where it gets more interesting.
During my first viewing, JJR had already won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, but one scene was a head scratcher: Jojo writes a fake letter addressed to Elsa. He reads the letter out loud, pretending it’s from Nathan, her fiance. Basically, Jojo wanted to convince her that her fiance didn’t love her anymore and wanted to call the engagement off. This reduces Elsa to tears. Garbage thing to do, that.
But I remember thinking, “Who in the right mind would fall for something like this? It was such an obvious petty lie made by an immature 10-year-old. Elsa took it at face value for no discernible reason.” I didn’t know what was worse, Jojo’s personality at that moment or the writing. Then towards the end, it finally made sense. Elsa knew her fiance was dead all along. She knew Jojo falsified the letter. Elsa didn’t cry because she thought Nathan hated her. She cried because that letter was a projection of Jojo’s own thoughts and she saw that Jojo didn’t love her back. Spoiler alert, Elsa loved Jojo. The nature of her love towards him is a bit obscure. Is it romantic or is it maternal?
If it’s romantic, it’s a bit peculiar considering Jojo hadn’t started puberty yet (Elsa is in her late teens). If it’s maternal, it’s reasonable because Elsa took after Jojo’s mother, i.e. her savior. But if it was strictly maternal, why would she see Jojo as a stand-in for Nathan? Jojo saw Elsa as a replacement for Inge (his deceased sister). Elsa was occupying Inge’s room, after all. His love for her was purely fraternal, no question about it. He was too young to understand anything past that.
But back to Elsa, a more important question to ask is: why love Jojo at all? He’s the embodiment of how childishly naive the Nazi ideology was. Why would a Jew love a Nazi in 1944-45, of all eras?
Was it romantic? Or was it maternal? Then I thought, “why couldn’t it be both?” What if true love starts out being maternal and ends up being romantic?
Mothers want their kids to be the best they can be. If their kids are dirty, they want them clean. If they’re rowdy, they want them settled. If they’re wounded, they want them healed. That’s maternal love. (Yes, it can be paternal, too)
But what if, just what if, on some basic level, romantic love has to start out as maternal? What if, subconsciously, we know our would-be partners are broken somehow, and we want to fix them? Us humans want to fix what’s broken. We want to complete what isn’t finished. We want to fill every possible hole we find (apologies).
What if that’s what caused Elsa to love Jojo? She saw that he was broken and confused to the point her safety was at risk. She loved him regardless. She loved him because he needed love. She saw a hole and she filled it. That’s love. At the end, she knew he wasn’t old enough to understand it, but that’s okay, she could wait. Love requires a willingness to wait. Your partner may not be perfect at present, but with time, you can brush their dirt off, calm their nerves, and heal their wounds. Like any parent would.
…Crap, my intent was to write a blog and I wrote an essay instead. This got me ruminating about the nature of love, as the first one got me thinking about the nature of family. This is what happens when I think about movies I’m passionate about: I dissect the ever-loving hell out of them.
Well, thanks for reading, guys! =)