“The Zookeeper’s Wife” (Focus)
By Catholic News Service
Inspiring but dramatically thin historical drama in which the couple (Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh) who run the Warsaw Zoo defy the Nazis occupying Poland — including the head (Daniel Bruhl) of their facility’s counterpart in Berlin who has been made their supervisor — by smuggling Jews out of the ghetto and hiding them until the resistance can arrange their escape from the country.
Chastain forcefully conveys her character’s appealing personality. But, in adapting Diane Ackerman’s 2007 nonfiction bestseller, director Niki Caro and screenwriter Angela Workman fall short of a compelling narrative. Parents will have to weigh the uplifting nature of the film — having helped more than 300 potential victims of the Holocaust, the central pair were eventually declared “righteous among the nations” — against some of the grim incidents it depicts in deciding whether this makes suitable fare for older teens.
Considerable combat and other violence, a couple of marital bedroom scenes, a glimpse of upper female nudity, mature themes, including gang rape and adultery. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.