The Zookeeper's Wife (2017) Poster

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Nazi's are bad, k?
Sleeper-Cell22 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
So what we have here is another Nazi's are bad film. Indeed a dozen or more of these types of films are made a year. There has not been any Nazi's since the 40's, we have much more serious current issues at play right now but Nazi's are still the most terrifying threat to humanity.

The problem with these films and in some cases documentaries is that it has become self parody. Just like a Doco I saw on Hitler and how he apparently suffered from flatulence.

So now we have German soldiers killing zoo animals. Why would professional soldiers, headed by a vegetarian, animal loving Fuhrer want this to happen? The Nazi's were also the first to outlaw vivisection but in this film they are all for it.

Some other stuff happens too, we see a virtual remake of Schindler's list, the usual hiding Jewish people thing.

But most of all we see a Politically Correct Hollywood make another boring film about Nazi's.
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Get rid of these ridiculous English/foreign accents
ph-swinnen6 July 2017
A film with promising actors and based upon an incredible true story, however didn't fill up to its high expectations, sadly.

Something that always troubles me, is feeling the need to speak English with an accent to show that they're actually speaking another language. It's in fact ridiculous, knowing that Johan Heldenbergh is pure Belgian (and actually speaks English with a Flemish/Ghent accent) and Jessica Chastain is pure American (her English/polish accent is just ridiculous). Either you just speak plain English or you make the movie with Polish actors. Besides that, Johan Heldenbergh, the zookeeper, (world-renown in Belgium but his first introduction in a bigger US production), was impeccable & perfectly casted.

The film didn't blow me away and was predictable from beginning till the end. Fairly enjoyable for a regular weeknight if you have nothing to do, but will most certainly be forgotten the next day - not anywhere near classic holocaust movies like Schindler's list or The Pianist. Too bad, cause everything was there (especially book & script) to make a much stronger impact.
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Terrible movie, absolute waste of time and money
chatbox19738 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers

I went in not expecting much and I got exactly what I expected... I would have probably even had a better experience staring at a black screen for two hours, eating my popcorn.

This movie lacked pretty much everything a movie needs. To say it was a slow pace would be too much credit, there was no pace at all, it dragged itself on with no direction, nothing happening, utterly boring.

So many silly goofs going on, like feeding pigs with garbage from the ghetto... garbage from a ghetto? What garbage, they'd eat everything till the very last scrap. Or another idiotic scene near the end of the movie where Lutz makes Rys lock his mother up, after they just walked through the tunnel... that would take you back to the broken down door in like 1 minute... Why would Lutz even bother at all to find out how many Jews escaped through the zoo, what does it matter at that point? The war was over, all any Nazi would be interested in at that stage was to get the hell out of there.

Watching this movie to me was certainly the biggest waste of time and money in several years.
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Keeping it PG-13 makes it more powerful emotionally than seeing everything
AlsExGal20 December 2017
I enjoyed The Zookeeper's Wife and would recommend it to most audiences. Skillful direction by Niki Caro, excellent sets and costumes, a slightly washed-out look to the cinematography which nonetheless has a full range of color, and a capable cast. The story is based on the actions of the owners of the Warsaw Zoo, who saved the lives of more than three hundred Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Nonetheless, the performance of Jessica Chastain is the single most important factor in the film. Unlike many American actors, she understands that a Polish woman of the 1940s does not look, move, or carry her features like a contemporary American. So fully does Miss Chastain inhabit her character that I never had the sense of an actress making choices.

The film is a bit long and a bit slow, like most films today, but not to a damaging extent. I particularly admired the way that the official from the Berlin Zoo who becomes a Nazi officer, well played by Daniel Bruhl, has certain scruples and personal moral standards although he embraces the Nazi philosophy. He's a villain, but not a cardboard villain, and part of the suspense of the film is waiting to see which lines he will cross and which he won't.
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The "right" elements were there - but it was toxic
bopdog7 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I am a fan of WWII history - factual and flights of fancy. And I am an ardent animal lover. And I have found Jessica Chastain a satisfactory, often great! - cast member in movies in the past.

So what could go wrong? It's hard to pinpoint, and painful to have to say it, but this movie felt "icky" to watch. I felt as if my psyche had been violated in some way, even "poisoned," if that's not too strong of an analogy. Granted, I didn't "enjoy" Schindler's List, either! But at least it, and other holocaust-ish movies, felt as if they were presenting something useful. Maybe not healing, per se, but some quality of the human narrative that moved us in some way. They felt honest. This one just upset me, and creeped me out, without offering any of what I could call a redemptive quality.

If I may be permitted to say, "The Zookeeper's Wife" felt like a prime example of the cinematic criticism of "gratuitous." Gratuitous violence does not equal reality (yes, I know, horrifying violence was WWII's theme). And gratuitous depression and grim horrors do not equal pathos. At least for me.

I have no doubt that all the producers, the director, the actors, all are wonderful people in real life. I have no doubt they worked really, really hard on this. And while you may love it (some IMDb voters seem to have), know that at least one prime candidate for an appreciative audience member (me) found it awful, hurtful, and unclean.
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Rough on animals and people.
Quietb-15 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
If you know what this story is about, you know it was a dark time in history that doesn't make for a good time at the movies. Basically the Germans shoot the animals and kill the Jews. The zookeepers wife helps save as many of each as she can.

Jessica Chastain schleps this movie along on her back. Her English Polish accent is often annoying. The casting of the children was awkward. Her son was overweight, an unlikely condition after about four years in a war starved country. The one year old daughter looked about four.

The movie feels long and drags at times. There is a lack of emotional involvement. You don't get to know much about those saved. There is a scene at the end when there is nothing left to happen except for the husband to return and you wait for the no surprise to happen.

There is no need to see this in a theater. It will play as well on a home platform.
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I wish I could have believed
octagonproplex8 April 2017
And again here with "The Zookeeper's Wife", yet another film standing stoically for virtue, forgets to actually be virtuous. Superficial piety poorly substitutes for the vitality of verisimilitude.

I'm not going to write a lot about the plot or delve into specific spoilers here, except to say it's supposedly based on true events, focusing on a Polish family using their forcibly defunct zoo grounds to help hide and save Jews from Nazi occupiers during the second world war. Now that that is established, let me say as well meaning as I'm sure all involved were in telling this story, it is written and directed to play into every lazy cliché, and feels forced and false far too often to ignore. It's simply not enough to facade a crudely painted platform for the humanities whilst being disingenuous to the holistic hindrances and hardships that hue humanity.

Although the film employs a perfectly talented cast, the acting is overwrought to the point of nearly being disgraceful. Like calculated clockwork; one single solitary tear systematically shimmers down Jessica Chastain's chaste cheek seemingly every five minutes. I don't necessarily blame the performers here, but rather Niki Caro's heavy-handed direction to them. Everyone is acting like their in an "important" movie instead of acting like real human beings faced with critical moments and difficult circumstances. We know the zookeeper's formidable wife is a woman of great integrity and capacity for courage and tolerance because -- in addition to pulling up her sleeves and working with the animals -- at every chance she affectedly plants affectionate kisses directly onto the snouts of any creature in her care without discrimination. Typical sniveling Nazi villain checks all the prerequisite boxes throughout, and is of course an arrogant predatory fascist stooge with fantastic notions of his own allure and aspirations of grandeur. Victims act like caricatures of victims, pulling faces and gestures with demonstrative abandon. A lot of shifting eyes here, or hysterics there -- everyone telegraphing their emotions when their supposed to be hiding them. Heinous character choices run rampant here, obviously meant to manipulate an audience's empathy or outrage, but backfire in there inauthentic regard for truthful human behavior and intellect. So many broadly melodramatic details clutter this telling without thought for the real-world recklessness that those choices would have actually been, that even without doing any research into the details of the actual events being portrayed I simply know as an common person of fair perception that there is no way they could have occurred in the fashion depicted within this film.

The cinematography, production design, and musical score are uniformly serviceable and generic. I give this project credit for decent aesthetic appearance and humane ambitions, but unfortunately cannot endorse such egregious posturing. I never felt a single true moment that made me forget I was watching a contrived scene meant to stir sentiment without sentience, and therefore constantly felt disengaged by its labored desire to be loved.
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Fails to connect emotionally
eddie_baggins8 November 2017
It's never a good sign for a movie when there's more emotional response being wrung out of animal deaths than human causalities and for Whale Rider director Niki Caro's adaptation of Diane Ackerman's bestselling book, it's even worse considering the subject material here is dealing with a heartbreaking World War 2 tale of unimaginable loss and torment during the Nazi occupied time in Poland of the 1940's.

The Zookeeper's Wife should be a film being talked about for end of year awards recognition but this pretty, yet unfortunately heartless drama fails to connect us properly to the plight of zoo managing couple Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who during the course of World War 2 risked their lives to save 100's of Jewish citizens escape the clutches of the invading German forces after their beloved zoo was bombed to pieces and taken over by Hitler's army in Warsaw.

It's a fascinating and seemingly not well-known true story that should be ripe for the big screen, much like classic World War 2 big screen pictures like The Pianist, Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas and even Schindler's List but Caro and her team fail to ever ignite the story of the Zabinski's to the levels it deserved.

Things start out promising enough as we're introduced to zoo life in peaceful Poland before war breaks out but Caro and her cast that's headlined by what could be normally ace actress Jessica Chastain's worst lead performance as the kind hearted Antonina and another terrible Daniel Bruhl turn as nefarious Nazi zoologist Lutz Heck (that seems to be his by now type casted role), can't make things work.

With Chastain's distracting Polish accent in the forefront, poorly established scenes of the Zabinski's and their interactions with their house guests and just a general sense that we're never getting the best out of what the story should be delivering, The Zookeeper's Wife ends up being an experience that leaves us feeling rather empty, even though we clearly understand that what was done was nothing short of heroic and heart-warming.

Final Say –

Bringing a worthy true story to the big screen, The Zookeeper's Wife is a polished production that has failed to bring the passion and heart the story deserved. With a misguided Chastain performance at the forefront and little support from the ensemble as a whole, Caro's film is a disappointment and one of the year's biggest wastes of potential.

2 food scrap bins out of 5
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The Zookeeper's Wife might look cute and cuddly on the front cover, yet it lures you into a bleak and depressing story.
TheMovieDiorama24 February 2018
Another saturated topic, we typically get two or three WWII films a year. Frustratingly, this is another typical holocaust film and one that will not standout against the packed crowd. In saying that though, this is an excellent "story" film to which I was fully immersed. A factual fictionalisation of the Warsaw Zoo surviving WWII where both animals and humans are in danger. The owners soon start to hide Jewish residents within the zoo in an attempt to save their lives from the Nazi holocaust. I expected a film about zookeepers and nearby residents saving animals from Nazi capture, boy was I completely wrong. The zoo animals only take precedent during the first fifteen minutes, and then the narrative's focus is purely on the owners, Jews and the Nazi regime. Soul draining is how I would describe this. It's bleak, depressing and not an ounce of happiness until the last five minutes. Director Niki Caro captures the horror of the holocaust and does not shy away from the brutality of it. She evokes powerful imagery that isn't portrayed in the film, we see a young girl being taken into a tunnel by two Nazi soldiers. We don't see what happens, but the detail in every scene enables us to imagine the terror that unfolded. Another synonymous scene would be when Jewish children are carried onto a train. We know where it's going, but the story never informs us. It's subliminal, and that might be due to the over saturation of this genre. Jessica Chastain stars as the eponymous character in what is one of her more nuanced performances, but emotionally vulnerable. When she cries, my God I feel it. Daniel Brühl was also captivating as the Nazi zoologist. Would I have liked the focus to be strictly on the zoo animals? Yes. It would've been different, less generic and perhaps more emotive. Can I complain about what was presented instead? No. A perfectly good WWII drama that is harrowingly depressing which will not set the cinematic world alight.
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A wasted opportunity by soap opera-like direction on a feature film
danaimou20 July 2017
The story itself is very intriguing, and could make for a great, interesting and touching film. Unfortunately, this movie fails on two main aspects, and it fails so badly that makes the movie barely watchable.

The most obvious is how unnatural the imposed accent while speaking English feels. It constantly takes the viewer's focus away from the actor's performances, and makes nearly every scene feel awkward and like it is made for a children's movie, which is in stark contrast to the main theme of the film.

Most importantly, the directing of the film is soap opera-like, where the characters constantly have to verbally express their thoughts and emotion, and explain situations through scripted dialogue, instead of letting good performances and good direction convey them. In way too many scenes, I found myself thinking about how more impactful the scene would have been if some dialogue was cut. In many cases this was so brutally obvious, it felt like a child was directing this film.

Case in point: A woman puts her son to bed and when she goes to close the window curtains observes something atrocious take place outside. The atrocity itself and the woman's reaction are enough to impact the audience. But then we are treated with the dialogue "Mama, who's shooting?" "Mama, they're shooting!" --> cries in mama's shoulder. This is basic stuff here, we know they are shooting, we just saw it. The only thing this next dialogue contributes to is to dilute the feeling of the scene. And this thing goes on throughout the film, where things happen and then people talk about the things we already saw happen.

I literally have seen better directing in the The Bold and the Beautiful! At the end, it just bores and leaves the audience unengaged. Except if you're my grandma. What a wasted opportunity!
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How did this movie not win a bunch of awards? Wow - missed opportunity
trimblair12 January 2018
Outstanding effort by everyone involved. True story -- one of heroes we didn't know even existed. The acting from the leads and support cast and direction give life to a wonderful story. Should say Academy Award winner, Golden Globe award winner, People's Choice award winner. Oh well - Hollyweird politics.
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Animal massacre, no thanks.
trinity145000025 February 2018
If you like seeing animals being executed for 30 minutes you are a sick individual.
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An emotionally manipulative mess.
Cfoudyrun17 April 2018
I can see why this film never really garnered a wide-release and was completely under the radar for any televised awards show. This film is worse than bad. It portrays the main characters as incompetent and idiotic instead of the brave and intelligent people that they were. But to be fair, this is due more to the awful writing than the performances (which were fine). The writing devolved a potentially gripping and dramatic story into melodramatic schlock. If you are looking for a good representation of the struggles of the holocaust, watch Schindler's List, Boy in the Striped Pajamas or read "Maus" or "Night"; please do not watch this garbage.
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A tad formulaic
josephkorsak16 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I was disappointed with this movie. Jessica Chastain was difficult to hear, using a Polish accent that was not particularly good. The underlying story is an inspiring one. Unfortunately, every scene where a Nazi materialized did not convey any real sense of danger. The music made you think that a very emotional scene was about to unfold. Wrong, again and again. The re-appearance of her husband at the end of the movie was as formulaic as one could imagine. Hold this film up to a real Holocaust movie (Schlindler's List) and it doesn't do very well.
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A below average very forgettable film
alindsay-al2 January 2018
This film has a very interesting back story so I was interested in watching it and I have now seen it and unfortunately though not terrible this film is incredibly forgettable. The premise of the film is based on a true story that sees a couple hide Jewish refugees in there zoo from the nazis. Jessica chastain plays the lead in the film and this isn't one of her best performances, she is clearly passionate about the role and she does her best with what she is given. But she overacts all the way through this movie and she feels very wooden and not real at all. Her emotional scenes usually come across as forced and very much like it is a script and not her if that makes sense. The supporting cast is a mixed bag, I liked the actor who plays her husband I thought he gave the best performance in the film but even he starts to overact towards the end of the film. Daniel bruhl is in this film and he does a decent job especially at the beginning of the film but as the film progresses his character becomes as cliché as you can get. Nobody else in the film gets any important screen time so when the film asks you to care you just don't which hurts the film. As mentioned before the story has an interesting concept and It is a bit interesting to watch and wonder how these people did what they did. But there are so many problems, there are aspects of the film that aren't expanded on enough and aspects that are focused on too much. It is a highly predictable film which doesn't give any surprises at all. The script has some decent drama with some particularly uncomfortable scenes that work well. Though there is absolutely no humour or life in this film even when these people are meant to be happy it just feels unreal. The style of the film looks good with the sets and animals especially coming across well, but this films pacing is really poor and just feels boring. Also this film has a really confusing way of showing time and how much has passed and it made it hard to follow. Overall this film isn't that bad it just is really forgettable and not worth a watch as you won't remember it.
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Another holocaust movie......
swjg19 June 2017
Of COURSE we should remember the holocaust and do everything we should to educate and impress on future generations what they must avoid. But this film is nowhere as near the quality or impact of Schindler's List or The Pianist.

So from what I've been able to read - the film is a fair summary of a true story. Warsaw Zoo bombed at the start of WWII, zoo converted to a pig farm, zoo director and his wife hide Jews who have escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto, war ends and (spoiler - so I won't go there).

Production values seem authentic. Story is sound. Doesn't jump off the screen and grab you by the throat. Still - worth a watch.
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Mediocre Star Vehicle
JackCerf3 April 2017
A competent but paint by numbers example of the Righteous Gentile Holocaust Movie. Definitely a vanity project for Jessica Chastain, who has the executive producer credit. The fugitive Jews she protects aren't really distinguished from the baby animals she cuddles maternally. Not worth the time or the money.
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unrealistic view of war
cdcrb1 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
a movie dealing with the German invasion of Poland in 1939 should invoke alarm, sympathy, rage. any range of emotions. not here. it's sentimental, I'll give it that. but if this is actually based on a true story, more animals were killed than people. a German couple, who run a zoo in warsaw, use the bombed out remains as a way station to smuggle jews out. to help this plan work, the wife flirts (I guess) with the German commander in charge, so that he doesn't ask any questions. this flirting business, I thought, was her husbands' idea, so I couldn't understand his jealousy. but i may have missed something here. i'm not sure. my biggest complaint is Jessica chastian. I can't understand why she has to look beautiful throughout the entire film, and her very bright red lipstick is never out of place. this seems very unrealistic to me. where would she get fresh lipstick during the war. in bombed out Poland.
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Animal killing?
bladerunner-6360030 March 2018
I love animals more than people. There was no point making this film. Isn't bad history itself enough?
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cybrsrch16 February 2018
Tragic, hard to stomach, needless. Sad, if you want to ruin your day, to make you feel horrible and witness atrocities against animals then this film is right up your alley. It is like watching faces of death on loop
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Told with grace, empathy and conviction, this celebration of ordinary heroism is elevated by strong performances by Jessica Chastain and her Belgian co-lead Johan Heldenbergh
moviexclusive19 March 2017
Based on the non-fiction book of the same name, 'The Zookeeper's Wife' recounts the true story of the husband-and-wife couple, Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who secretly sheltered Jews during the German invasion of Poland from 1939 to 1945 on their premises of the Warsaw Zoo, thus enabling these Polish Jews to escape from the infamous Warsaw Ghetto and the eventual extermination of the place as well as its inhabitants within.

At its heart, this is a celebration of ordinary heroes – that is, of ordinary men and women who have displayed extraordinary heroism during extraordinary times. Such tales are often told with sycophantic adulation, which runs counter to the nature of their character/s and ultimately leaves one feeling patronized. Thankfully, its director Niki Caro knows her way around such celebrations of heroism (as evinced by her previous works like 'Whale Rider', 'North Country' and 'McFarland, USA'), placing emphasis on the difficult circumstances of the war in order to demonstrate the Żabińskis' bravery rather than on exalting the characters per se. Scenes of life pre- and post-invasion, of life behind the ghettos and of the nail-biting process of sneaking the Jews out of the ghettos are played out with attention to detail and realism, just so the context under which the Żabińskis were living under as well as the danger they were putting themselves and their only son Ryszard under are felt keenly and profoundly – hence illuminating the spirit of valour and self-sacrifice their deeds exemplified.

Those who have read Diane Ackerman's source novel will probably know that her narration is as much about Jan and Antonina Żabiński as it is about Lutz Heck, the duplicitous head of the Berlin Zoo whom the Żabińskis first meet before the war and who eventually turns out to be one of the prominent figures of the German war office in Poland. Like in the book, Lutz aimed to recreate pureblood versions of certain extinct species; and for dramatic impact, instead of transporting some of the cattle from the Warsaw Zoo to run his animal eugenics programme back in Berlin, Lutz (as played by Daniel Bruhl) does so right on the grounds of the former. That deviation allows screenwriter Angela Workman to fashion a rather unnecessary subplot between Antonina and Lutz, which sees Lutz develop a personal liking for Antonina and concomitantly engendering marital tension between Jan and Antonina. As distracting as that may be, it is consoling that neither Lutz nor the Germans in particular are demonized; in fact, the former's on screen representation shows an unexpectedly benevolent side at the end that may in fact be kinder than his real-life person.

In turn, the horrors of the Holocaust are depicted through a fictional character which Caro has said was her idea. Played by Israeli actress Shira Haas, Urszula is a barely teenage girl whom Jan encounters on his maiden trip into the ghetto bleeding and shaken after being raped by two German male soldiers. Against better judgment, Jan conceals her right under the driver's seat of his truck (under his son's feet, no less) in order to help her escape from any further misery. Though manipulative, Urszula's addition is arguably an effective device through which Caro conveys the magnitude of the Żabińskis' rescue efforts – not only is she intended to be emblematic of the suffering and subsequent trauma that the Jewish children no doubt endured during the German invasion, she is the face of the persecuted Jewish, personifying the 'human' in humanity. Her recovery is also representative of the hope that the Żabińskis' act of wartime courage gave to the 300 Jews that they saved in the six years of the German occupation.

As with such historical dramatisations, the strength of the performances determines whether the film itself ends up being compelling – and sure enough, that 'The Zookeeper's Wife' is fascinating to watch from start to finish is testament to the strong cast. However cynical you may be of Jessica Chastain's casting as Antonina which therefore requires the Hollywood actress to put on a Polish accent, she is undeniably captivating as the eponymous lead, channeling grit and vulnerability in equal measure as she fleshes out her character's fears, anxieties and convictions. Her stripped- down performance complements that of Belgian actor Johan Heldenbergh, who may not have matinée-idol looks but certainly the gravitas to play a resolute volunteer for the underground Polish resistance. Among the supporting actors, Bruhl and Haas are the standouts, the former exercising admirable restraint in what could have been a traditionally villainous act while the latter surprisingly nuanced in her portrayal of the most visible victim of Nazi sadism.

Many a story has been told of ordinary men and women who have displayed extraordinary heroism during the Holocaust, and 'The Zookeeper's Wife' stands out among one of the better ones by simply telling its story well without embellishment or worse exaggeration. Even better, it underscores the emotional devastation of war without violence or gore; rather, with emphasis on authenticity, the film lays bare the communities torn apart when the Germans invaded, the sheer hopelessness of those who were oppressed, and the sacrifices that one must sometimes make in order to achieve a loftier, nobler purpose during such challenging times. Especially when some world leaders seem to have forgotten the importance of world peace, this is as apt a reminder as any that the cost of war is immeasurable, immutable and perhaps even irreversible.
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Nice story
mompaxton-481-12138124 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Once again another example that man is the ruination of this planet. The meanest beast on the planet is man.

for all the bad reviews of the movie I liked it. A decent storyline, unsure how much was fact or not, but played well. Predictable of course. I love Jessica Chastain, she's talented and beautiful. Good things to come from her. She played well snuggling all the baby animals. She can cry on cue which always helps in a movie like this. Can't really put my finger on what I didn't like about the film. I wouldn't have seen it in the theater. But it was entertaining to watch on a rainy day. Yes I cried at the end, of course I did. When you have a horrible war picture you have to wrap it up in a nice neat pretty bow at happy ending. Like I said, Predictable.
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A must see movie!
haroot_azarian21 June 2017
Jessica Chastain is one of those rare breeds of actors that goes from strength to strength. And I am pretty sure she picks the roles offered to her very carefully. Being an avid fan of true story-based movies, and also having a strong knowledge of WWII history, I knew immediately that I had to see the movie as soon as I read about it. And I was not let down at all. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, which was well scripted although as I read somewhere that the intimate relationship of the protagonist, Antonina (Chastain) and the antagonist, Heck (Bruhl), is exaggerated in the movie. Nonetheless I loved it and highly recommend it and give it a full 10!
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Great storyline but not the best outcome!
Lalpera10 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I have mixed feelings about this movie. I wish I could write a really positive comment on it, because it has a great theme of human love and kindness. But there are few flaws which really hurt the movie that would otherwise have made it a great movie.

First of all, the strength of love and kindness shown not only towards humans but also to animals is very powerfully shown. That is the strongest trademark of the movie. The immense risk taken by both wife and husband, Antonina and Jan to protect some Jews is depicted fairly strong in the story line. A powerful theme of empathy towards those hiding in the basement has worked out well. Jessica Chastain doing the role of Antonina is clearly the winner of the best character here. She lives in her character like a fish in the water and stands tall among other actors. How she handles the romantic advancements of Lutz while not antagonizing him in order to hide the secrets and safeguard the basement refugees is exemplary. Johan acting as Jan is doing a great job too. His character is a strong pillar to Antonina's character building.

However there were some flaws. Losing momentum in some scenes and characters where the flow becomes faulty and with some voids. Basically it's a problem within the script, so the script writer has not done a proper job. I also attribute those to poor editing and directing rather than to acting. Many times, particularly in the last 30 – 40 minutes, the connection between the scenes was very weak. Scenes changed quite abruptly, not linking to the next frame thus losing the momentum. For e.g. how did Jan got involved with an underground group to fight with Nazis was not clear and the sequences leading to that was not shown at all. Whether Antonina knew about it or not, is rather confusing too. Also, how some workers still remaining in the zoo amidst so much of war chaos and Nazi bombing and invasions has not been created credibly. Given the ruthlessness of Nazis, the lackluster attitude of Lutz towards Antonina and her family when he found the secrets is very questionable. And when Jan confronts Antonina with a suspicion of an affair between she and Lutz, her reactions were not credible, because she didn't really wanted to be Lutz's secret lover. Yet she doesn't tell it to Jan strong enough, except in a flash. And how the couple afforded to feed hundreds of people in a secret tunnel is a big question very badly unanswered!

Yet with all that, I find the movie a positive one.You get excellent acting by almost everyone. Needless to re-iterate how well Jessica, Johan and Daniel do their jobs. Music is serene and allure, that captures the poignant setting of the era. Cinematography is one of the best I've seen recently. The chaos of the zoo after the Nazi bombing has been captured brilliantly where the animals were running amok all over the city. Those few minutes must been a real challenge to film, with real animals, but both director Caro and cameraman Andrij have done a great job there.

It is not a great movie. It is not a perfect movie. But it is a movie that enhance and re-affirm your faith in humanity. Strengthen your belief that humans are the most valuable thing on earth. Antonina and Jan shows us that no matter what happens to their life, when it comes to saving a human life, they would do it. And they did save as many lives as they could. That is what inspires me most about this movie.
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Not perfect but good
maricam8 April 2017
"The Zookeeper's Wife" is based on the lives of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, during the German occupation of Poland during World War II. I class this movie in the same league as "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" and "It's A Beautiful Life". These are movies which give viewers credit for having a brain as evidenced by a lack of gratuitous violence, blood, gore, and killing.

We don't need to see animals being blown up or girls being raped to know these things happened and were horrible. I don't find graphic images of such things "entertaining" anyway so I appreciated the lack of shock and horror. Instead the writers and director effectively allude to the horror without abusing me, the viewer. Some will say the movie is a sanitized view of WWII and they would be right. But it didn't diminish the impact of the story, which is the entire point of the film.

The story is one of kindness, bravery, and resilience in the face of Nazi evil. It is simply told in a linear fashion. The movie is well filmed and well acted. As entertainment goes it's good. As far as "message", it's as deep as the viewer wants it to be. I found myself thinking, "What would I do in a similar situation?" And if I find myself asking myself that question rather than turning away I call that successful story-telling. A good movie doesn't need to beat up the audience to drive home it's point.

So, mostly I just wanted to provide a review applauding the restraint of the movie maker. For too long I've had little choice in movies I'd want to watch since so many of them feature explosions, gunplay, graphic scenes of murder and rape, gratuitous use of obscenity, profanity, and vulgarity, and rarely give me credit for having any kind of discernment as they beat me over the head with some heavy-handed "message" usually about something with which I completely disagree. "The Zookeeper's Wife" doesn't employ any of these tired, ugly devices. I didn't once feel manipulated. It's not a perfect movie but it was entertaining and left me with plenty to ponder and talk about with others.
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