War brews over Warsaw in 1939, and while life is still running its course, the Germans are slowly beginning to make their presence felt, with Hitler secretly preparing for the German invasion of Poland. Under those circumstances, the young couple of Jan and Antonina Zabinski continue their daily routine as owners and keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, but soon, as German Luftwaffe's Stukas hammer the Polish capital, their life's work together with the city, will turn to ashes. However, with the zoo liquidated for the war effort and many of its animals tragically perished, what was once an animals' zoo, will now serve as a sanctuary where Antonina, the humanist veterinarian, and Jan can hide the persecuted Polish Jews in plain sight until safe houses are found. That was Jan and Antonina's formidable, yet perilous plan, who regardless of the consequences, refused to wither before the Nazi menace, took matters into their own hands and sheltered 300 Jews under the Germans' noses.Written by
A wasted opportunity by soap opera-like direction on a feature film
The story itself is very intriguing, and could make for a great, interesting and touching film. Unfortunately, this movie fails on two main aspects, and it fails so badly that makes the movie barely watchable.
The most obvious is how unnatural the imposed accent while speaking English feels. It constantly takes the viewer's focus away from the actor's performances, and makes nearly every scene feel awkward and like it is made for a children's movie, which is in stark contrast to the main theme of the film.
Most importantly, the directing of the film is soap opera-like, where the characters constantly have to verbally express their thoughts and emotion, and explain situations through scripted dialogue, instead of letting good performances and good direction convey them. In way too many scenes, I found myself thinking about how more impactful the scene would have been if some dialogue was cut. In many cases this was so brutally obvious, it felt like a child was directing this film.
Case in point: A woman puts her son to bed and when she goes to close the window curtains observes something atrocious take place outside. The atrocity itself and the woman's reaction are enough to impact the audience. But then we are treated with the dialogue "Mama, who's shooting?" "Mama, they're shooting!" --> cries in mama's shoulder. This is basic stuff here, we know they are shooting, we just saw it. The only thing this next dialogue contributes to is to dilute the feeling of the scene. And this thing goes on throughout the film, where things happen and then people talk about the things we already saw happen.
I literally have seen better directing in the The Bold and the Beautiful! At the end, it just bores and leaves the audience unengaged. Except if you're my grandma. What a wasted opportunity!
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