Popcorn Picks Review: The Zookeeper’s Wife


Photo Credit: Focus Features

Bethany Wade, Asst. Photography Editor

Who would have thought the animals in a film about World War II would have more life than the actors.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” is a historical World War II drama that focuses on the true story of the Zabinskis, who owned the Warsaw Zoo in 1939. When Hitler invaded Poland, the Zabinskis worked in secrecy to hide persecuted Jews in the zoo, since the zoo was forced to close down after the invasion.

The only performance that stands out is Jessica Chastain as the titled “zookeeper’s wife,” Antonina Zabinski. Though her accent was questionable, Chastain put in a large amount of compassion into her acting, which is required for such a role. She showed the complexity of not only the character, but also her surroundings and her situation.

Every other actor fell short compared to Chastain. No matter how hard they tried, the two other leads, Daniel Brühl and Johan Heldenbergh, are paper-thin. Their characters feel fake, lacking the depth and emotion of Chastain’s character.

The story, written by Angela Workman, tried to stand out from other World War II films and showed a touching story relating to the Holocaust. Though it did a nice job in telling such an inspirational story, it fails to stand out on its own.

The script is not bad, but it feels like a by-the-numbers historical drama that shows a miracle in the middle of a horrible tragedy. This story has been done numerous times before, and though this formula works for the story it is trying to tell, this film will be forgotten within the next few years.

Most notable about this film is the positive portrayal of the time period. Thinking of other classic movies focused on the Holocaust, such as “Schindler’s List,” “The Pianist” and “The Boy in The Striped Pajamas,” these films show viewers the tragedies and struggles during this time period.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” chooses to focus on a miracle story, where people were instead saved and able to live their lives, rather than be sent to death in a concentration camp. This is a huge positive for the film, because this is hard to do, yet the film manages to pull off a story that makes the audience feel good at the end.

The film will not be joining the list of classic historical films, however, it’s still an important film for people to see. It leaves a sweeter taste in the mouth than most films in this genre.

Rating: Three and a half out of five kernels.

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Twitter: @BethanyWadeTWW