The Zookeeper’s Wife Movie Review

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Reviews keep coming, and it’s time for another one! I was excited for just because this movie has one of my favorite working actresses in Jessica Chastain. I’ll see anything with Jessica Chastain. I always have to mention that last year Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, and Charlize Theron were all in a film together. Those are three of my favorite actresses in the industry today. All three may actually be in my top five. Can you name the movie they were in? That’s right! It was The Huntsman: Winter’s War, one of the worst movies of 2016! That’s just a movie fan’s luck, I guess. Anyways, I’m done talking about movies that frustrate me for today at least. Let’s talk about The Zookeeper’s Wife!

The Zookeeper’s Wife is directed by Niki Caro and stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, and Daniel Brühl. A zookeeper and his wife are living peacefully and keeping their zoo in Warsaw, Poland in tip-top condition for all of the visitors. Pure passion for animals gets them out of bed in the morning, and they have built a nice life for themselves. When Germany invades Poland in 1939, their passion for animals quickly shifts to a passion for human life as the two hide and protect Jewish people from the German forces attempting to kill them or bring them to internment camps.

Movies are special. They can open our imagination, change us, move us, take our minds out of reality for a couple of hours, reflect us, and open our hearts to stories that we might have never known had the film not been made. The Zookeeper’s Wife falls under a few of the categories, but the final one is the category that made me like this film as much as I did. I love when film opens us up to stories we wouldn’t have known or tells us a story from a perspective that we never would have considered. Excluding the fact that these main characters performed such courageous acts, when would have anyone wondered how the German invasion of Poland affected a zoo and its zookeepers? I probably wouldn’t have. Nothing against zookeepers, but they’re not on specific a list of people I consider when I hear about national tragedies. It’s not that I don’t respect them, and I’m an animal lover myself, but such specific groups probably wouldn’t cross my mind at first glance. I think this story is so remarkable because it completely opened my eyes to these characters, and it hit from an emotional standpoint. Jessica Chastain is amazing in the film. She is the reason that the emotions shine through whether that emotion be happiness, distress, or fear. Her raw feelings seep through the screen, and they give the film a ton of power. She also has excellent chemistry with the actor who plays her husband, Johan Heldenbergh. What I loved about their relationship was that it wasn’t necessarily a solely physical attraction. They were completely in love with each other, and they understood each other. Yes, they have the physical attraction, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the way they can talk to each other, the way they don’t need to talk to each other, and the way they both follow the same code of ethics and passion. Family came first, and the way they interacted and loved each other as well as how they loved the people they were helping packed a punch, and it gave the movie so much emotional weight. The film is also beautifully directed, and the story is so well realized. It looks magnificent, and it doesn’t need fiery visuals to give us a great visual design. The way the house was designed with all of the intricate pieces as well as the way the zoo was set up worked perfectly, and the love and care that goes into maintaining a zoo was fully fleshed out and turned the setting into a character of its own.

I honestly believe this is one of the best films of the year so far, but if I had to pick a negative I would say that there are scenes here and there that don’t hold the maximum emotional value that they had the chance to. I’d have to say that it was probably because sometimes scenes don’t linger long enough to let a hole be made in your heart. Sometimes in a film we need a second to step back and fully take in the events that just transpired right in front of our eyes, and sometimes that doesn’t happen in The Zookeeper’s Wife. I’d have to say that more often than not the emotional tug is there, but there are instances where it just barely misses.

Overall, The Zookeeper’s Wife is one of the best films released so far in 2017, and I’m a bit surprised that it’s not being released a bit closer to Oscar season. I guess I’ll never truly understand Oscar marketing because while I don’t think that The Zookeeper’s Wife is the finest we’ll see in 2017, it definitely has the premise, the performances, and the direction to at least be in the conversation. It hits from an emotional standpoint, and the story is beautifully told and realized to bring us close to our breaking points. Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, and Daniel Brühl, are all great, and the way they work together and interact make this unknown story of terror and heroism work. It’s even more incredible to think that this is a true story and that all of this actually happened. It gives you a much deeper appreciation for what a little bit of love can do for a lot of people. I’m going to give The Zookeeper’s Wife an 8.2/10.

Will you be checking out The Zookeeper’s Wife? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm

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