A German soldier tries to determine if the Dutch resistance has planted a spy to infiltrate the home of Kaiser Wilhelm in Holland during the onset of World War II, but falls for a young Jewish Dutch woman during his investigation.
Berlin, 1940. Working class couple Otto and Anna Quangel receive the news that their only son has lost his life in the battlefield and decide to resist the Nazi regime in their very own way. Soon the Gestapo is hunting "the threat".
A headhunter whose life revolves around closing deals in a a survival-of-the-fittest boiler room, battles his top rival for control of their job placement company -- his dream of owning the company clashing with the needs of his family.
A rookie officer is teamed with a hardened pro at the California Highway Patrol, though the newbie soon learns his partner is really an undercover Fed investigating a heist that may involve some crooked cops.
As a holocaust film, Zookeeper's Wife could have done with a little more urgency yet well-intentioned and equally inspiring.
It's hard to think of any other era in human history that Hollywood hasn't exploited but the fact remains that for every life saved during WWII, there are still countless heroes that remain unnamed. Which is why The Zookeeper's Wife is an inspiring story of courage and sacrifice, but also a noble one considering how that war still haunts us on a global scale.
In the titular role is Jessica Chastain as Antonina Zabinski opposite Johan Heldenbergh as Jan Zabinski, zoo operators in Warsaw, just as Germany invades Poland. Antonina loves her animals and this opening segment is beautifully shot and almost dreamlike, but all this changes when bombs drop all over the city. Then comes German zoologist Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl who seems typecast as a German villain in a Hollywood film) with a proposition to move the prized animals to sanctuaries in Germany. Lutz is also an SS Officer and his sinister motives become apparent as the story progresses. Meanwhile, Jan has a plan and not just for the animals on the pretext of turning their destroyed zoo into a piggery, they would smuggle Polish Jews out of Nazi controlled ghettos and into freedom.
Along with admirable performances from the cast, director Niki Caro's period saga is amiably balanced between a heartwarming true story and powerful moments through the film. One scene has Antonina telling an assaulted girl why she trusts animals more than humans. In another scene, innocent children are seen eager to board a train, not knowing the destination is certain death at Auschwitz. Even as these moments are met with angst from the audience, a little more urgency could have amplified the emotional oomph of these scenes, especially if the script was filmed in the native language of this region but subtitled in English. Yet as a holocaust film based on actual events, The Zookeeper's Wife is a poignant story and at times a stark reminder of atrocities perpetrated by humans on other humans - something even animals wouldn't do; Scarier than that is the thought that if this happened before, it can always happen again.
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