The Zookeeper's Wife

Critics Consensus

The Zookeeper's Wife has noble intentions, but is ultimately unable to bring its fact-based story to life with quite as much impact as it deserves.



Total Count: 169
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Movie Info

The real-life story of one working wife and mother who became a hero to hundreds during World War II. In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh of "The Broken Circle Breakdown"), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned - and forced to report to the Reich's newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl of "Captain America: Civil War"). To fight back on their own terms, Antonina and Jan covertly begin working with the Resistance - and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.

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Jessica Chastain
as Antonina Zabinska
Daniel Brühl
as Lutz Heck
Johan Heldenbergh
as Jan Zabinski
Iddo Goldberg
as Maurycy Fraenkel
Shira Haas
as Urszula

News & Interviews for The Zookeeper's Wife

Critic Reviews for The Zookeeper's Wife

All Critics (169) | Top Critics (40)

  • Questions persist about the tone and approach.

    May 10, 2017 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The combination of cute furry animals and the horror of the Warsaw Ghetto makes uncomfortable and unfortunate viewing in The Zookeeper's Wife.

    Apr 21, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Your time will be much better spent in an actual zoo.

    Apr 20, 2017 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • It doesn't burn through the conscience and haunt you forever like Schindler's List, but in spite of its laid-back reluctance to shock and horrify, it's never trivial or boring.

    Apr 5, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Rex Reed

    Top Critic
  • Niki Caro breaks out of the genre and emerges with a truly moving and original film. She uses the familiar structure of survival and rescue, but her focus is on the mechanics of cruelty itself in an unlikely setting.

    Apr 4, 2017 | Full Review…
  • How this was managed is truly inspiring, but the way it plays out in Angela Workman's script (adapted from Diane Ackerman's bestseller) is strictly by the numbers.

    Mar 31, 2017 | Rating: C | Full Review…

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