The Zookeeper’s Wife has been getting mixed reviews, most— while praising a spectacular performance by Jessica Chastain—accuse the film of being too tame, of sanitizing the horror of the holocaust.
The New York Times calls it a Disney version of the holocaust
‘‘Schindler’s List’ With Pets”: That’s my suggested alternate title for The Zookeeper’s Wife. This mild-mannered Holocaust film probably wasn’t conceived as family fare but is so timid and sanitized it almost feels safe for children.
The Atlantic says the story of the couple who saved 300 Jews is a noble story that deserves telling but 'feels airless & predictable.’
‘The Zookeeper’s Wife feels like a staid history lesson even in its most wrenching moments. It’s a worthy film that fails in revealing any depth to its protagonists, remembering them for their courageousness and little more.
Variety seems to praise Jessica Chastain’s efforts, but ultimately says that “This powerful story of a woman who hid Jewish refugees in her husband's zoo curiously leaves us caring more about the animals than its human souls.’’
‘No doubt some of the blame falls on Angela Workman, who has scripts in the hands of some of the town’s top directors (from Spielberg to Fincher), but has yet to see any of her work translated into a genuinely thrilling movie. There’s no nice way to put it in this case, but The Zookeeper’s Wife has the unfortunate failing of rendering its human drama less interesting than what happens to the animals — and for a subject as damaging to our species as the Holocaust, that no small shortcoming.
For all the Jessica Chastain fans out there, this has got to be a huge disappointment, especially as most reviewers acknowledge the actor’s excellent performance. In the end though, perhaps the most important opinion is this one tweeted out by the Anne Frank Center—
.@Zookeepers is among the most essential movies on the Holocaust we've seen, and @jes_chastain gives performance of lifetime. #NeverAgain— AnneFrankCenter(US) (@AnneFrankCenter) April 2, 2017
The Zookeeper’s Wife is playing at my local movie theater. I think I'll see it anyway. How about you? Will you see it despite the lackluster reviews?