One of the darkest moments in French history occurred in 1942 Paris when French officials rounded up over 10,000 Jews and placed them in local camps. Eventually over 8,000 were sent off to German concentration camps. As 10-year old Sarah and her family are being arrested, she hides her younger brother in a closet. After realizing she will not be allowed to go home, Sarah does whatever she can to get back to her brother. In 2009, a journalist named Julia is on assignment to write a story on the deported Jews in 1942. When she moves into her father-in-law's childhood apartment, she realizes it once belonged to the Strazynski family, and their daughter Sarah. Written by
In the restaurant scene at the end, the Quinn character is seen with his hand over his face. Cut to the child standing in front of glass which reflects Quinn looking straight ahead. Cut back to Quinn with his hand over his face. See more »
And so I write this for you, My Sarah. With the hope that one day, when you're old enough, this story that lives with me, will live with you as well. When a story is told, it is not forgotten. It becomes something else, a memory of who we were; the hope of what we can become.
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When a Jewish family get arrested by Hitler siding French police, young Sarah not understanding the magnitude of what is occurring locks her younger brother in a closet, expecting to come back and recover him shortly. Realizing quickly that the situation she is in is far more terrible than expected she is desperate to escape and set him free. Sick, her and her family are taken to a camp where parents are separated from the children and are never seen again. Recovered Sarah and another young girl find an escape and run through the countryside to safety. The other girl becomes sick and they are both taken in by a older French couple but as the girl worsens there is a risk of exposing the girls as Jews. Although the young girl doesn't make it, Sarah is hidden away till the Nazi's leave and Sarah pleads with them to take her to Paris to find her brother. The journey is fraught with danger and the end obvious to us.
In modern day Paris, Julia and her family inspect an apartment of her in laws that her architect French husband will redo. Julia, am American, works as a journalist and wants to cover a story about the use of a velodrome where Parisian Jews where herded to and discovers the story of Sarah. An obsession grows as Julia is determined to find out what happened to the young girl and to find out how her husbands family came to own the flat.
This is a very fine film that is equally a historical story as well as a mystery as Julia seeks out the truth with a fine performance by Kristen Scott Thomas as Julia. The film flit's between the too separate yet connected story lines. Scenes of confusion within the velodrome are horrid too watch as are the scenes of separation of parents and children in the camp. We as the audience can almost guess the outcome of Sarah's young brother left locked in a closet whose key Sarah clings to, yet the outcome is still gut wrenching and Sarah's scream is enough for us to understand what she finds without us having to have it confirmed visually.
The obsession of Julia is a fascinating one; trying to work out first how the flat became someone elses, to searching for some sign of what became of the young girl takes her her far and wide and she encounters an array of people including Sarah's son, who is clueless to his Mother's past.
Scott Thomas gives quite a wonderful yet almost subdued performance as she struggles with the horrors of the past and her families connection to events as well as dealing with her own personal torment. The film is extraordinarily moving in it's telling of Sarah with her experience resonating and shaping those that come after her. Yet because the film chooses to focus on two timelines, we are never entirely dragged into the horrors of the Holocaust and whilst we are never far from them, it never overbalances itself. It is a fine film that depicted another story of the many thousands that WWII has given us, one that for France is of shame and one that, as with so many others continues to be relevant and effect those generations after.
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