Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Writers: Gilles Paquet-Brenner (screenplay), Serge Joncour (screenplay), and 1 more credit
Stars: Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance and Niels Arestrup
Motion Picture Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 111 minutes
Kristin Scott Thomas stars in this absorbing drama about the holocaust and about one family’s horrific experience of it and about the deep scars left by it on another. Sarah’s Key is set in Paris and is mostly in French with subtitles. Scott Thomas as Julia plays an American journalist living in Paris today and trying to write a piece about the round up of Jews living in the city in 1942.
In July 1942 the French state cooperated with the Nazis in the identification, segregation and persecution of groups of Jewish people. French police picked up whole families, kept them locked up in a velodrome for days (the Vel’ d’hiv round up) and then facilitated their transport on to the Eastern European death camps. The film follows one such Jewish family being taken. In particular it focuses on their daughter Sarah and her attempt to hide away and save her younger brother. Sarah’s story unfolds alongside that of Julia for whom today’s investigative piece of journalism starts to open up wounds within her French family-in-law.
This is a very moving film. The scenes in 1942 are rightfully harrowing and Sarah’s small story is able to capture all of the unprecedented inhumanity and intolerance of the time. The young actor playing Sarah (Melusine Mayance) is excellent, as is the whole cast. The modern scenes with Scott Thomas are also impactful and the overall narrative flows very well. It is a touching film that makes you think and that also inspires.
- What I’m Reading: Sarah’s Key (karaschatter.com)