★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
"Maybe that's why I love animals so much. You look in their eyes & you know exactly what's in their hearts." That's an excellent quote from Jessica Chastain in The Zookeeper's Wife, a great but somewhat flawed film. The film is based on the 2007 book The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, which was based on the true story of Antonina & Jan Żabiński. Set in 1939, Chastain plays Antonina Żabiński, a zookeeper at the Warsaw Zoo, along with her husband, Jan Żabiński (played by Johan Heldenbergh). Berlin Zoo director Lutz Heck (played by Daniel Brühl), known for being Hitler's zoologist & for performing infamous experiments, tries to make advances towards the zoo & Antonina.
On September 1, 1939, Poland is invaded by the Nazis, beginning World War II. Soon after, the Nazis begin to take the Jews out of the city & into the Ghetto. Eventually, Antonina & Jan decide to hide some Jews in the zoo, as many of the animals have been killed or slaughtered, although they know what the consequences of defying the Nazis could be. As they hide more & more Jews, the stakes get higher, & the danger of being discovered becomes more & more imminent.
The acting is excellent. Niki Caro's direction is excellent. Angela Workman's screenplay is great. The cinematography by Andrij Parekh is stunning. The film score by Harry Gregson-Williams is amazing. The costume design by Bina Daigeler is amazing. And the production design by Suzie Davies is stunning. Although the narrative is flawed, it's still a deeply moving film about an amazing people who saved many people from imminent death.