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
Was the most successful French movie in the Netherlands, due to the popularity of the book on which the film is based, until The Intouchables (2011) took the record. See more »
In the first scene, Sarah lies on her left side and faces Michel who is lying on his right side, facing each other. This means Sarah is on the left side of the bed. When they throw the blankets of, Sarah suddenly lies at the right side of the bed. 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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Starts with horrors and builds into inward, probing beauty
Sarah's Key (2010)
A two pronged film with a harrowing account of French anti-Semitism in World War II paralleling a contemporary account of a reporter discovering the details of one Jewish family destroyed by those events. Eventually the tales collide, and coincide, and another kind of meaning arises about accountability and acceptance.
At first this tale might strike you as both forced--the two narratives are very disjointed and separate, back and forth--and painfully familiar--another riveting, heart wrenching version of Jewish suffering and determination during the Holocaust. But stick with it, because it picks up complexity and nuance as it goes. Once you realize the roundup and mistreatment and eventual killing of the Jews is led in this case by French officials, you know this has a different kind of chill to it. And then you find that the contemporary story is literally connected to the 1940s story.
The leading actress in the 2010 thread, Kristin Scott Thomas, is one of those rare actresses who can command the screen with quiet brooding. She's convincing in a way that we identify with, and our sympathies are with her from the start. As she uncovers the facts of the past, and faces varying degrees of concern and indifference, she herself undergoes a transformation. This, by the end, is really what the story is about, the pertinence for our own times. The specific events around the title idea, the young girl's key, are horrifying to the point of being slightly sensationalist, but the rest of the movie is so studied and careful, you take it in stride.
In all I was surprised and eventually deeply moved by this movie. It's filmed with exquisite camera-work and is sharply edited. And most of all, director Gilles Paquet-Brenner gets the most from all the actors, from the children in the prison camp to the adults on all sides showing their human sides in restrained ways, without caricature.
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