Wives have had a pretty good run of it in movie titles. There’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Preacher’s Wife, The Astronaut’s Wife (not to be confused with The Astronaut Wives Club), The Stepford Wives, and My Favorite Wife. Joining that auspicious lineup is Jessica Chastain’s upcoming vehicle, The Zookeeper’s Wife. And, like many of those films, it’s actually far more somber than its domesticated title would suggest. The trailer opens on what looks to be a somewhat whimsical period piece about Chastain working at a zoo, only to reveal the film is actually about a World War II resistance movement.
Based on the true story that was made famous in Diane Ackerman’s nonfiction book of the same title, the film follows a Polish couple who secretly turned their bombed-out zoo into a shelter for Jews during World War II. Chastain stars as Antonina Żabiński, who, along with her husband Jan, hid hundreds of Jewish families fleeing the Warsaw ghetto. The film is directed by Whale Rider’s Niki Caro, and Chastain famously wrote an essay from the film’s set, praising its female-heavy crew (women made up 20 percent of behind-the-scenes roles) and the collaborative energy of the project.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is set to be released in March 2017.