The Zookeeper’s Wife is based on a true story of extraordinary bravery and compassion in the face of evil. There is no doubt that the Polish couple at its center and the nearly 300 Jews they safeguarded during World War II are heroes. This particular profile in courage, however, loses a connection with its subjects in pedantic plotting. Despite maintaining a micro-level focus on specific characters during a time of global crisis and conflict, there’s a dramatic distance and familiarity with the film that, while honoring the history, keeps it feeling more perfunctory than poignant.
Of the films in Terrence Malick’s uncharacteristically productive post-Tree of Life period, Song to Song is the best and most accessible. That doesn’t mean it’s a conventional, or even an easy, watch. The auteur’s latest is just as poetic, dialogue-averse, and irregularly constructed as To the Wonder and Knight of Cups, but its themes are clear and the abstractions have more perceptible depth.