The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife

Whale Rider director Niki Caro teams up with two-time Oscar-nominee Jessica Chastain (The Martian) for this adaptation of Diane Ackerman's best-selling novel.

The real-life story of one working wife and mother who became a hero to hundreds during World War II. In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Nazis, Jan and Antonina are stunned – and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl). To fight back on their own terms, Antonina and Jan covertly begin working with the Resistance – and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.

2017Rating: M, Violence127 minsUSA
DramaTrue Story & BiographyWarHistorical

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The Zookeeper's Wife / Reviews

Flicks, Liam Maguren

Flicks, Liam Maguren

Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) recently completed Disney’s McFarland, USA and it won’t be long until she finishes Disney’s live-action Mulan. Her in-between feature, The Zookeeper’s Wife, is no Disney flick. Based on the true story of Polish animal tender Antonina Żabiński (Jessica Chastain) and her husband Jan (Belgium actor Johan Heldenbergh), the film follows the couple’s colossally brave decision to transform their bomb-mangled zoo into a safe haven for Jews during WWII. It doesn’t rewrite Schindler’s List, but Caro delivers enough compassionate hugs and kicks to the gut to make the story worthwhile.

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Variety

Variety

Caro's movie fails to muster even a fraction of the suspense such life-and-death material naturally demands.

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Time Out

Time Out

Jessica Chastain is relaxed with some actual lion cubs, and there's a bunny that should win an Oscar. But when the film pivots to the scared human beings down below, you get a hint of the weirder, tougher drama it might have been.

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The New York Times

The New York Times

A polite but pallid recycling of Holocaust movie tropes with epic pretensions.

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The Guardian

The Guardian

...has moments of power but also suffers from an uneven script.

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Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone

True-story drama about a Polish wife who helped shelter Jews from the Nazis in her family zoo can't escape clichés - but does boast an excellent lead performance from Jessica Chastain

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Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

Belief begets belief, and the faith that star Jessica Chastain and director Niki Caro have in "The Zookeeper's Wife" turn this World War II drama into an emotional experience that is straight-ahead but satisfying.

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Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

The movie's central figures and their experiences have been cleansed of complexity, embalmed in a sort of hagiographic glaze that makes even the pain look pretty.

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FilmInk

FilmInk

Has the occasional flash of brilliance that lifts it slightly above the average.

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