if their story seems completely bonkers, almost like a feverish work of fiction, you ain't heard nothing yet.
The first must-see film of the year.
A movie that not only functions as a solid scarefest but a razor-sharp satire.
Exactly the movie you think it is, but not the movie you want it to be.
Gre da Vid
There have been a number of films regarding the holocaust, WWII, the sacrifices and persecution of the Jews by Germany and the few that hid and helped many Jews escape death. This film is another story of just such activity and a thoughtful rendering of the price that is paid by those who sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others.
The Movie Diorama
Another saturated topic, we typically get two or three WWII films a year. Frustratingly, this is another typical holocaust film and one that will not standout against the packed crowd. In saying that though, this is an excellent "story" film to which I was fully immersed. A factual fictionalisation of the Warsaw Zoo surviving WWII where both animals and humans are in danger. The owners soon start to hide Jewish residents within the zoo in an attempt to save their lives from the Nazi holocaust. I expected a film about zookeepers and nearby residents saving animals from Nazi capture, boy was I completely wrong. The zoo animals only take precedent during the first fifteen minutes, and then the narrative's focus is purely on the owners, Jews and the Nazi regime. Soul draining is how I would describe this. It's bleak, depressing and not an ounce of happiness until the last five minutes. Director Niki Caro captures the horror of the holocaust and does not shy away from the brutality of it. She evokes powerful imagery that isn't portrayed in the film, we see a young girl being taken into a tunnel by two Nazi soldiers. We don't see what happens, but the detail in every scene enables us to imagine the terror that unfolded. Another synonymous scene would be when Jewish children are carried onto a train. We know where it's going, but the story never informs us. It's subliminal, and that might be due to the over saturation of this genre. Jessica Chastain stars as the eponymous character in what is one of her more nuanced performances, but emotionally vulnerable. When she cries, my God I feel it. Daniel Brühl was also captivating as the Nazi zoologist. Would I have liked the focus to be strictly on the zoo animals? Yes. It would've been different, less generic and perhaps more emotive. Can I complain about what was presented instead? No. A perfectly good WWII drama that is harrowingly depressing which will not set the cinematic world alight.
After Hitler's Luftwaffe bombings of Poland's capital, Warsaw; caretakers Jan Zabinkski (Johan Heldenbergh) and his wife Antonina (Jessica Chastain) turn their zoo into a different kind of sanctuary. While the Nazi' occupation is rounding up Jews to be taken away to be beaten and murdered; the zookeeper's wife works with a high ranking Nazi to protect the zoo animals. At the same time, Antonina and her husband work with the Resistance in an effort to hide Jews from the wartime carnage. Disturbing scenes of destruction, people and animals being shot; implied rape scene along with brutal battles, bombing and horrific explosions relate the drama of this true story. Compassion and courage against tremendous odds shows inspiration. Overview of the remaining cast: Daniel Bruhl, Frederick Preston, Michael McElhatton, Shira Haas, Timothy Radford and Efrat Dor.
GRADE: B-THE FILM IS RECOMMENDED.The Zookeeper 's Wife tells the important story of the Nazi Occupation in Poland and trivializes it with heavy handed sentimentality. The film tells the true story (with way too much melodrama) of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, zookeepers at the Warsaw Zoo, who decide to save some wild animals and many Jews from the Nazis during 1940 until 1945. The obvious symbolism of the newly caged Jews hidden within the walls of the zoo is not easily missed and probably the most subtle reference in this entire film. (Historically, the Zabinskis rescued nearly 300 Jews from their certain deaths.)The Zookeeper's Wife is a well made film, but the subject matter of the Holocaust and its systematic destruction of the Jewish people deserves a more realistic treatment. Although director Niki Caro earnestly tries to tell the story with serious intent, she overstates the obvious throughout the film. The simplistic screenplay by Angela Workman depicts Good vs. Evil in the broadest of terms. To her credit, Ms. Caro creates some powerful images and doesn't shy away from the ugly atrocities upon the Polish people but, the characters, in general, lack depth and rarely seem authentic. The actors play their roles with conviction. Jessica Chastain tackles the part of Antonina and she is a believable presence. As her stoic husband, Johan Heldenbergh is quite compelling. Daniel Bruhl balances his stock character, Lutz Heck, a Nazi sympathizer and animal lover, with a refreshing degree of nuance. He makes one believe in this conflicted man.However, too often, facts make way for fiction in this film adaptation for the sake of dramatic conflict. Though far from accurate, Lutz's infatuation with Antonina becomes a central issue of the story. Also a fine young actress named Shira Haas is cast as Urzula, a totally fictional character much maligned by the Nazi soldiers. While the actress is very effective in her supporting turn, one wishes the filmmakers stayed true to more historic accounts of real events.The Zookeeper's Wife has much to admire, if one can accept the oversimplifications and soap opera plotting presented as truth.