The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife

Niki Caro (2017)

12A Certificate


Our Score
Apart from a suspect Polish accent, Jessica Chastain is on dignified form in the true story of Antonina Zabinska who, along with her husband, sheltered Jews from the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War. Though the premise is reminiscent of Schindler's List, the twist here is that the way station is a zoo filled with exotic animals, attracting the unwanted attention of Nazi chief zoologist Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl, striving to add depth). The fact he also takes a shine to Antonina creates a fraught situation that requires both deception and acquiescence on her part. However, director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) draws back at key moments, diluting the tension. There's an emotional barrier, too, that keeps the growing discord between Antonina and husband Jan (Johan Heldenberg) from resonating as deeply as it should. The upside of Caro's approach is that difficult scenes hinting at the terrible fate of so many people (children especially) don't feel exploitative. It's impossible not to be moved, even with such a polite rendering of events that, in the end, finds hope for the human species.


A Warsaw animal lover risks her life by helping to shield hundreds of Jews from the Nazis. True-life drama, starring Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh and Daniel Bruhl.

Cast & Crew

Antonina Zabinska Jessica Chastain
Jan Zabinski Johan Heldenbergh
Lutz Heck Daniel Brühl
Ryszard Zabinski (younger) Timothy Radford
Magda Gross Efrat Dor
Maurycy Fraenkel Iddo Goldberg
Urszula Shira Haas
Jerzyk Michael McElhatton
Ryszard Zabinski (older) Val Maloku
Regina Kenigswein Martha Issova
Director Niki Caro
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: UniversalGuidance: Violence, nudityAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 21 Apr 2017