|THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE (director: Niki Caro; screenwriters: Angela Workman/based on the book on the diary of Antonina Zabinska by Diane Ackerman; cinematographer: Andrij Parekh; editor: David Coulson; music: Harry Gregson-Williams; cast: Jessica Chastain (Antonina Zabinska), Johan Heldenbergh (Jan Zabinska), Daniel Bruhl (Lutz Heck), Timothy Radford (Rysard Zabinska-younger), Efrat Dor (Magda Gross), Iddo Goldberg (Maurycy Fraenkel), Shira Haas (Urszula ), Michael McElhatton (Jerzyk), Vad Maloku (Rysard Zabinska-older); Producers: Jeff Abberley, Jamie Patricof, Diane Miller Levin, Kim Zubick (); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Jeff Abberley, Jamie Patricof, Diane Miller Levin, Kim Zubick; Focus Features; 2017)|
marvelous true story deserved a better film."
by Dennis Schwartz
on an amazing true story of an heroic Polish animal
loving woman during the Holocaust who sheltered Jews
in the abandoned Warsaw Zoo and along with her
husband managed to save 300 Jews from the Nazi death
camps. Director Niki Caro ("North
Country"/"Whale Rider") is fine on the visuals but
doesn't do much with the humanistic dramatics of this
incredible story but keep it stiffly real. And that's
a shame because this marvelous true story deserved a
better film. It's based on Diane Ackerman’s
nonfiction book, which is based on the diary of
Antonina Zabinska. It's blandly written by Angela
Warsaw zookeeper is Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) and
his wife is Antonina Zabinska (Jessica Chastain).
The woman is amazing with the animals and even allows
her young son (Timothy
Radford) to sleep with the lion cubs.
brave couple, after the bombing raids and Nazi
invasion in August of 1939, risk their lives to sneak
Jews out of the Warsaw ghetto in garbage trucks and
hide them during World War II in cages in the
underground tunnels of their abandoned zoo. They do
this while the occupying Nazi soldiers patrol the
area, and while the creepy villainous Lutz
Heck (Daniel Bruhl),
Berlin’s head zoologist, arrives in Warsaw to take the
surviving animals back to Berlin for "selective
breeding" experiments. Hee makes his unwelcome
presence felt even more by also flirting with the wary
story that should have been tense and frightening
throughout, but the storytelling weakens and can't
keep the tension from fizzling. This, unfortunately,
turns out to be another mediocre Holocaust
movie that's at least bolstered by a few bright spots
with the animals.
REVIEWED ON 4/8/2017 GRADE:C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ