THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE
THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE
* * * * (Joyce)
* * * ½ (Don)
We’ve seen many films about the Holocaust, many like this one that are based on a true story. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” offers a different, not quite as gloomy look at how people survived that horrible time in history.
Jessica Chastain plays Antonina Zabinski, the title character who devotes her life to providing sanctuary for Jews in her Warsaw zoo. She and her husband watch the Germans destroy the zoo, killing some of the animals, while others flee into the city.
How and where they hide the ghetto residents is quite innovative. Also interesting is how the caring, compassionate Antonina helps them maintain a sense of dignity and hope in their lives, where they actually live in a basement in animal cages.
There are some close calls and enough suspense to hold your interest and make you care deeply for people whose lives have been upended.
Daniel Bruhl plays Lutz, a German officer who is also a zoologist and concerned about preserving the animals. He develops a strong interest in Antonina, who must walk a thin line when it comes to his affection toward her.
The zoo has been turned into a pig farm to feed the German army. Antonina’s husband develops a clever way to get many of the Jews out of the ghetto and onto his property, causing many tense moments, creating his own underground railroad.
Chastain gives a brilliant portrayal of this real-life heroine who with her husband and other zoo workers saved over 300 Jews. The credits tell us that the zoo is still open today.
Rated PG-13, with violence, some nudity and sexual references, but all tastefully done. There are some scenes that may be disturbing to some.