“The Zookeeper’s Wife”

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” only barely approaches the chilling realism of a “Schindler’s List”

2 stars

Rated PG-13

1 hour 55 minutes

Jessica Chastain, Jan Hendelbergh, Daniel Bruel

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – During World War 2, a zookeeper and his wife in Warsaw, Poland, saved hundreds of Jews from extermination. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is a noble but much too watered down attempt to tell their story. How terrible could the Nazi terror actually have been as told with a PG-13 rating?

Jessica Chastain is stunned when her husband suggests using their zoo as a haven for Jews destined for the gas chamber. Chastain’s more at home as a Doctor Doolittle communicating with her beloved animals than engaging in the cloak and dagger world of smuggling Jews out of the Warsaw ghetto, before they’re shipped off to the death camps for the final solution.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” only barely approaches the chilling realism of a “Schindler’s List”. Instead, Jessica Chastain only has to keep Hitler’s favorite zoologist Daniel Bruel from becoming suspicious by putting her zoo under his protection.

Chastain’s powerhouse performance isn’t quite enough to save the picture from its annoying tendency to put her faith in animals instead of people.

With due respect to the power of Jessica Chastain’s exquisite performance, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is just too timid to be classified as Holocaust history. A fatal flaw that reduces “The Zookeeper’s Wife” to only 2 stars, because every Holocaust film will forever by measured against “Schindler’s List”.