Sarah (Mélusine Mayance) and her parents are driven from their home during the 1942 Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. Before the French officials forced them out, Sarah was able to hide her little brother in a locked, concealed closet. When it becomes apparent the family will not be returning home, Sarah's desperation to rescue her brother mounts, and she does everything in her power to get to him.
When American journalist Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas) and her French husband begin renovating his family's Paris apartment, Julia learns that the former occupants were part of the 1942 roundup. Finding out what happened to Sarah becomes a driving force in her life, and Julia soon uncovers long-hidden family secrets.
My take: I generally enjoy World War II movies, so I jumped at the chance to review Sarah's Key. I didn't realize it was a French movie, though—so I'm glad I recently got a larger TV, which made reading the subtitles easier!
I really liked this film. The fact that it cut back and forth between Sarah's and Julia's stories kept it from getting too heavy. I also appreciated that the filmmakers chose not to go for the "gross out" factor in one pivotal scene. Rather than showing a grotesque, decomposing body, they focused on the characters in the scene, which I think made a more powerful impact than showing the body would have.
Several fantastic performances really carry this film. Kristin Scott Thomas is great as usual, but the two performances that stick out to me are Niels Arestrup as a Frenchman who takes Sarah under his wing and Mélusine Mayance as the young Sarah. Mayance in particular is phenomenal, as she completely sells Sarah's horror, determination, and pain.
Also of interest is a "making of" special on the DVD, which features interviews with the film's director (who claims Mayance is one of the best actresses he's ever worked with) and Tatiana De Rosnay (the author of the book Sarah's Key), as well as a look at the special effects/stunts and the history behind the story.
Sarah's Key is easily one of the best World War II films I've seen, and I highly recommend it! (Be aware that it is depressing, though—it's a Holocaust story, after all!)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product free for review from Amazon.com through its Vine reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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