Critic Reviews



Based on 36 critic reviews provided by
The Film Stage
There’s something powerful to be read into every action, line, and image. Subtle yet striking, this is a film that is filled with the power of exquisitely executed storytelling.
It’s a remarkable story, told in a movie that doesn’t always quite live up to it; except for a few crucial scenes, The Zookeeper’s Wife feels a bit too soft-focus for the devastating story it tells.
Decency, in its raw, instinctive form, is ultimately what earns The Zookeeper’s Wife a place in the self-conflicted canon of Holocaust cinema.
Even at its most engaging (those cubs!), Zookeeper can’t help evoking the dozens of films that have told these stories before, and better.
Slant Magazine
The film imbues a pessimistic view of the seemingly bottomless depths of human cruelty with sorrowful tragic force.
This considered, muted drama can’t escape a fussy tastefulness — not to mention inevitable comparisons to more crackling treatments of similar subject matter.
All told The Zookeeper’s Wife is a story worth telling, even if there are a good number of not-so-hot spots along the way.
There’s no nice way to put it in this case, but The Zookeeper’s Wife has the unfortunate failing of rendering its human drama less interesting than what happens to the animals — and for a subject as damaging to our species as the Holocaust, that no small shortcoming.
As with many other portrayals of this ugly period, the movie's central figures and their experiences have been cleansed of complexity, embalmed in a sort of hagiographic glaze that makes even the pain look pretty. Harrowing things happen, but it’s the easiest kind of "tough watch”; we know exactly what we’re supposed to feel and when we’re supposed to feel it.
The Żabińskis were as unfailingly heroic as it gets, but memorably rendering a resistance shouldn’t be so resistant itself to the rough-and-tumble humanity of the details, and the unsentimental doom that shrouded it all.

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