The Zookeeper’s Wife

Rated 4.0

When the German invasion of Poland destroys the Warsaw Zoo, the zoo’s director Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh) and his wife Antonina (Jessica Chastain) stay on in their residence on the grounds, covertly helping the Polish resistance and smuggling over 300 Jews out of the doomed Warsaw Ghetto—most of whom, along with the abiskis themselves, survive the war. It’s a true story, adapted by Angela Workman from Diane Ackerman’s book and directed with relentless intensity by Niki Caro. Caro lets her cast overdo the intense dramatic whispers, a bit of a drawback in a movie with so many Polish names—but that’s a minor nit-pick, and don’t let it keep you away. The movie is powerful and riveting, well-acted by all (with the exquisite Chastain first among equals) and sublimely photographed by Andrij Parekh. J.L.