Film Review: Jessica Chastain is Steadfast as ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – Jessica Chastain is a memorable and glamorous actress, who continues to challenge herself with in-depth and complex roles. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is her latest, and her performance outweighs the formulaic based-on-truth story, set during the Holocaust.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

That setting covers the years 1939 to the end of the war, in the city of Warsaw, Poland (and yes, it is a film where people speak english with accents). Those vital years in history are framed by the key story, which involves the Warsaw Zoo and the proprietors there. If there is a formula to a Holocaust story – and as a reminder the Holocaust was the systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish population and other oppressed peoples during the rule of Nazi Germany – then it becomes about the people who stuck their necks out as the rescuers during the era, then get to a point where they are almost caught, and then are lionized after peace arrives again. The evil Nazis, scenes of the ghettos and trains to the concentration camps are all in the film, a reminder of horror not too far removed, and yet nothing new is presented on the topic except for the zoo.

Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain) is the wife of the proprietor (Johan Heldenbergh) of the Warsaw Zoo in the summer of 1939. They are passionate zookeepers, and their attraction is very popular. Even Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl), a zoologist from Germany, admires the zoo and speaks of collaboration with the couple. Everything changes in September of 1939, when the Nazis invade and occupy Poland.

The zoo becomes a artillery depot during the occupation, and the animals are eliminated. The zookeeper’s family is hunkered down in their living quarters, but the oppression of the Jewish ghettoes in Warsaw becomes daily news. The zookeepers decide that their home will become a hiding place for several Jewish individuals and families, risking everything with the Nazis nearby… including Lutz Heck, who returns as a Nazi officer with designs on Antonina.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” opened everywhere on March 31st. See local listings for 3D theaters and show times. Featuring the Jessica Chastain, Daniel Brühl, Johan Heldenbergh and Ryszard Zabinski. Screenplay adapted by Angela Workman, based on a book by Diane Ackerman. Directed by Niki Caro. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Zookeeper’s Wife”

ZKW1
Jessica Chastain and Friends in ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’
Photo credit: Focus Features

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Zookeeper’s Wife”

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing

TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Advertisement



HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
tracker