Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
The Zookeeper's Wife
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Daniel Bruhn, and Johan Heldenbergh
Synopsis: It’s been more than 70 years since World War II ended. Many of those who lived and fought through it are no longer with us. But it’s an important part of our history, and we never seem to reach the end of these stories. “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” based on a true story, is one such story. It’s about Nazis and Jews, men, women and children fighting to survive in Poland during WWII. It’s an important story and it’s well told. While most, if not all of us, have heard and seen these types of stories many times before, it’s a narrative that never gets old. And as that generation is slowly disappearing, it’s even more important to keep the memory of those events alive and fresh in our minds. As has been said, those that don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. Stories like this keep those events in front of us, bringing with them the expected flood of emotions that are so important in keeping our history — even the sadder parts — alive in the present. There’s not a lot of mystery about what is going to happen in this story. It follows the historical account and the book from Diane Ackerman, and the events of WWII are well-trod ground. But this is a story many might not be familiar with. Director Niki Caro (“Whale Rider,” “North Country”) does a nice job of laying out the story. She makes the most of her cast and this true life story, helping bring the narrative to life. Chastain, a past Academy Award nominee, is the focal point of the film and does a nice job in her role. She carries a lot of the emotionally weighty scenes and sinks into the character. Bruhl, too, is a fairly menacing villain. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” hits all the emotional beats that you’d expect in a film like this. It’s also an interesting true story about courage and compassion during a dark time.
Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, violence, brief sexuality, nudity and smoking.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Friday, April 7 — "The Case for Christ," "Smurfs: The Lost Village," "Going in Style"
Friday, April 14 — "Fate of the Furious," "Spark"
Friday, April 21 — "Unforgettable," "Born in China," "Free Fire," "The Promise"
Friday, April 28 — "Sleight," "The Circle," "How to Be a Latin Lover"