Review: ‘The Zookeerper’s Wife’ Is A Historically Significant Adaptation
“The Zookeeper’s Wife” is comprised of stellar performances and historical significance.
“The Zookeeper’s Wife” tells the story of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski. During World War II this husband and wife helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 3.5
Opening with a scene of majestic beauty, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” brings attention to the once captivating Warsaw zoo in Poland. On the brink of World War II this is a significant moment as it shows how quickly the war destroyed bright happiness transforming it into dark despair. It’s that pit of despair that we are taken down as an audience. Watching the Zabinskis make the decision to use their zoo to help neighboring Jewish people is the turning point of the film.
Filled with the suspense of if or when they will be caught, there’s an array of moments that elevate emotional connection and intensity. Things move forward in an escalatory, progressive fashion which structurally makes sense. The only aspect of the film that bothered me was the pacing. Moving from an introspective view of the war to an external view then back again felt somewhat jumbled. It was a minor issue of things feeling less organic like they were trying to cram too much in at once. Focusing strictly on developing the characters further may have produced a more genuine experience.
When it comes to the characters the performances are top notch. Jessica Chastain and Daniel Bruhl definitely outshine the rest of the cast. As the main protagonist and antagonist their relationship is what sets the tone of “The Zookeeper’s Wife.” Sharing the screen together the intensity ensues as it is conveyed through their stellar performances.
Overall “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is a structurally sound film. With a relevant story based on real events it establishes social significance as well as heart.
Entertainment Value – 3
There is originality and substance to this film but that doesn’t necessarily make it a crowd pleaser. There are moments of stagnation that seem repetitive rather than introducing new elements to the story. Repetition is part of the story as the process of saving more and people is redundant, but there is a diluted emotional response during the second act.
If you cannot attach yourself to the cause and the characters, the film has few transitional scenes to create engagement. Most should find appreciation for the film’s message but solely on entertainment, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is hit or miss.
Re-Watchability – 2.5
“The Zookeeper’s Wife” is an enriching experience with a factual basis, but based on its length and stagnant moments, it’s not a film I would want to watch more than once. There are moments I would be interested in reliving. I would also rewatch the film solely for the appreciation of the actors’ performances. Unfortunately once this film’s message is conveyed, it’s difficult to invoke the same emotional response again.
- Entertainment Value
"The Zookeeper's Wife" is a historically significant, real life adaptation surrounded by stellar performances that reinforce the emotional impact. But for some, the film may feel sluggish and repetitious during the second act making it too long-winded to endure.
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