27 Apr 2017
POSTED BY Y Magazine

This week, Y’s movie critic, Kevin McIndoe, shares his views on The Zookeeper’s Wife, Free FireThe Promise and Wonder Woman.

The Zookeeper’s Wife 

Jessica Chastain appears to be Hollywood’s go-to actress when you want a woman for the job, not a girl. In short, if you want anything said, get Jennifer Lawrence; if you want anything done, get Jessica Chastain.

So for her latest outing, she has turned to an ignoble part of history, and it’s a part Chastain is tailor-made for.

In a true story, she plays Antonina Zebinski, a Warsaw working mum who becomes a heroine to hundreds of people fleeing the Germans during World War II.

When Poland is invaded by the Germans, Antonina and her zookeeper husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) find themselves having to report to the Nazis’ chief zoologist Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl).

With hundreds of innocent people being hunted down in Poland, the two must work with the Resistance to provide shelter and help those who would otherwise be forced into captivity.

After coming up with a plan to transform the zoo into a farm, Antonina ventures out into the city, ostensibly to pick up trash from the ghetto. Except that she is picking up people to hide and eventually transport to safety.

Working under Heck’s beady eye is a challenge and particularly as he begins to take a shine to her.

Who says never to work with children or animals? Chastain is terrific, with a nuanced, endearing performance packed with courage, compassion and fear. Bruhl is also excellent as the complex Lutz.

It’s a difficult film to watch at times (obviously) and animal lovers might find it hard-going. But none were harmed during filming, as you’d expect.

It’s a stunning movie, and if you can cope with the subject matter, it’s a must-see.

Free Fire 

When Justine (Brie Larson) accompanies Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) to an illegal gun deal in a desolate warehouse, it doesn’t go according to plan.

Pretty soon, the bullets are flying around and don’t stop through most of the movie. From then on, it’s a matter of taking cover, and finding out who you can trust.

The film is set in 1978, although the only clues appear to be the suit lapels and shirt collars and the fairly obvious inference that the buyers of the weapons are the IRA. It’s a hugely enjoyable crime thriller, with a nod to Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and anything by Scorsese (who gets an executive producer credit here).

The Promise

In the last days of the Ottoman Empire, this one follows a love triangle between Michael, a medical student; the beautiful Ana, and Chris, an American journalist based in Paris.

A big screen romance set against historical events? It’s the type of film that is going to fly, or flop. And I think it’s definitely the former despite some controversy. Some ghastly internet trolls have tried to diss the movie (how they could have seen it already I don’t know) because they disagree with its historical perspective.

Set in 1915, the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians remains controversial. However, it makes for a weighty yet highly accessible film. Oscar Isaac stars.

Long View

Wonder Woman

Well, it was inevitable that this superhero would get a reboot sooner or later. For those of you old enough to remember Lynda Carter in the TV version of the 1970s, this feels like a grittier, earthier version.

Instead of being a secretary who twirls, and transforms herself into a lean, mean fighting machine, this time Diana (Gal Gadot) is a warrior who has grown up on a sheltered island paradise.

When an American pilot crashes on it, and tells of a massive conflict going on in the outside world that needs leadership, there is only woman for the job. Stars Gal Gadot, with Chris Pine and Robin Wright.

Oman Release Date: June 22

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