This is no Schindler’s List: Rashid Irani reviews The Zookeeper’s Wife

It’s based on a true story about a couple who sheltered Jews during WWII, yet it feels trite, melodramatic, even cavalier.

movie reviews Updated: Apr 21, 2017 18:42 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
Jews,World War 2,Zoo
Jessica Chastain struggles with a put-on accent, and sheds copious tears all through.

  • Direction: Niki Caro
  • Actors: Jessica Chastain, Daniel Bruhl
  • Rating: 2 / 5

Well-intentioned but exceedingly melodramatic, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the real-life story of a Polish couple (Jessica Chastain – Johan Heldenbergh) working at the Warsaw zoo when World War II broke out.

As Nazi soldiers begin to round up the city’s Jewish population, the brave-hearted duo turns their bombed-out facility into a haven for hundreds from the Warsaw ghettos.

Most of the dialogue is trite; the ravages of war are treated in cavalier fashion. The covert resistance movement and the post-war reconstruction of Warsaw are accorded merely a scene or two.

There is none of the urgency and angst of those years, in the film. The Zookeeper’s Wife barely makes it to see-grade.

Overall, the film fails to capture the mood of urgency and threatening angst prevalent during the years of the German occupation. Worse, there are embarrassing interludes with a Nazi zoologist (Daniel Bruhl) who’s attracted to the heroic zookeeper’s wife.

In the lead role, Jessica Chastain struggles with a put-on accent and sheds enough tears to have drenched some of the smaller creatures she cared for.

This is no Schindler’s List. The Zookeeper’s Wife barely makes it to see-grade.

Watch the trailer here

First Published: Apr 21, 2017 18:42 IST