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Elle s'appelait Sarah
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Reviews & Ratings for
Sarah's Key More at IMDbPro »Elle s'appelait Sarah (original title)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Humane and Poignant

Author: Mike B from Canada
14 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very powerful and humane tale of events during the Holocaust. There is a scene in the movie where an archivist at the Paris Holocaust Memorial states that he wants to put a human face and picture to the events that happened during those dreadful years – not just recite numbers and statistics. This is what this film does so very well, as it closely follows a Jewish family forced from their apartment in the Marais district of Paris in 1942. These depictions are very emotional and confront us with the stark reality of the war years.

This is contrasted with the current era where a family has just bought or inherited the very same apartment that the Jewish family was removed from. A woman, in the current era, is a journalist and begins slowly extrapolating the secrets from this apartment. Perhaps this inter-weaving of past and present was somewhat overdone – the conflict the woman journalist had with her husband seemed only to distract from the main story. However it does force us to see history as part of the present – where cities, streets, houses, and rooms in houses have a past.

It should also be pointed out that the film is very accurate in portraying the French authorities (the police) as being complicit in the Holocaust on French territory – one could almost add solely complicit.

Be warned that this is a very evocative and heart-rending film with a sad ending. It brings us face-to-face with the devastation children experience from the atrocities of war and that they are eternally scarred.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Moving and poignant

Author: rogerdarlington from United Kingdom
11 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In several respects, I was reminded of "Sophie's Choice" (1982) when viewing "Sarah's Key" (2010). Both films have two-word titles, a woman's name and a common noun, the subject of the noun being the pivot for the whole narrative; both deal with the Holocaust, the first based in France and the second in Poland; both involve the death of a child in particularly harrowing circumstances; both show how the events of the Holocaust cast a long shadow over post-war lives and even challenge the ability to continue living; both stories are seen through the eyes of a writer, the first Stingo who falls in love with Sophie and the second Julia who becomes infatuated with the image of Sarah; both films involve an actress at the height of her art, Meryl Streep and and Kristin Scott Thomas respectively; and both are based on novels, in the first case by William Styron and in the second by Tatiana De Rosnay.

What is different about the immensely moving French-language "Sarah's Key", ably directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, is that it is rooted in an actual incident: the round-up of 13,000 Jews in Paris on the night of 16-17 July 1942 with their inhuman detention in the indoor cycle track the Velodrome d'Hiver prior to eventual transport to Auschwitz from where only 25 returned. A further difference, crucial to an appreciation of the film's political impact, is that the exercise was conducted not by the Germans but by the French. As the action goes back and forth in time, more and more is revealed and, as in some of the best of stories (think of "A Tale Of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens), the final lines of dialogue are among the most poignant.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: Chris L from France
1 November 2013

The narration alternates between scenes from the past and from the present, and one can't say this choice turned out to be quite pertinent because if/while the passages revolving around Sarah are relatively interesting, especially the beginning and the rafle du Vel d'Hiv in fact, Kristin Scott Thomas' investigation isn't at all, which induces an extremely bad dynamic because every scene somewhat interesting is followed by a rather boring one.

Anyway, the scenario as a whole isn't refined at all and a clear superficiality emerges from the movie, which doesn't convince at all. Even the actors' performances are bland, unimpressive, like the story. Elle s'appelait Sarah won't go down in the records, especially since the holocaust has been the subject of other better productions.

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heart-breaking history

Author: SnoopyStyle
27 November 2016

Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas) is refurbishing her in-laws' Paris apartment after her mother in-law left for assisted living. The apartment comes with a history and she wants to write about it for her magazine. Her husband's grandparents took over the apartment after the Starzynskis. In 1942, the police are gathering all the Jews into the Vélodrome d'Hiver. Sarah Starzynski locks her brother Michel in the closet and promises to return later as the family is taken by the police. She is separated from her parents. She escapes, loses her friend Rachel, finds salvation with the Dufaures, and desperate to return to her brother. In the present day, Julia's uncovering of the past causes friction within the Tezac family. Her pregnancy is causing a rift with her husband. Her investigation leads to William Rainsferd.

Sarah's story is horrific and heart-breaking. It is intense. The present day story is less compelling even with the pregnancy. It should connect to the past much more directly. Julia should be searching for the transit camp that leads directly to Sarah in the camp. Julia should find the Dufaures which leads directly to Sarah being saved by them. In short, the two timelines should be connected directly. Honestly, the present day is only interesting for what Julia finds about Sarah and its own melodrama sorta drags. This is all about Sarah for me and it would be great to have more of her story.

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Just another holocaust movie, but worth a watch

Author: adamw25 from UK
19 September 2016

'Sarah's Key' is a well written and well made film that takes on a different holocaust story, combining historical and modern day events. To start with the positives - there were some strong acting performances, especially from the young actress who played Sarah, and the plot was strong and interesting enough.

There were a few things that I didn't particularly like, mainly the constant cutting from one story to the other, which I thought took a lot away from the initial story of Sarah. Just when you feel you're getting into one story, it cuts away to other and loses the impact it could have had.

I've seen plenty of holocaust movies and whilst this one attempts to do things differently, it just doesn't stand out.

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Author: room102 ( from Israel (
10 October 2015

Based on a novel, the movie follows a journalist investigating the story of a French Jewish girl during WW2 in France. The movie goes back and forth between 1942 and 2002. Although the plot itself is fiction, it deals with true events that happened in France during that time.

Good direction, good production and excellent acting by the young actress playing Sarah (it's a shame she wasn't nominated for any award).

The film is very moving (brought tears to my eyes more than once) and although it's not nearly as "harsh" as "In Darkness (2011)" and not based on a true story, the plot is more interesting.

The second half of the movie changes direction, so it's not as good as the first half. Still, a very good movie.

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If Nicholas Sparks wrote a Holocaust novel . . .

Author: Edgar Allan Pooh from The Gutters of Baltimore
10 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

. . . it probably would look a lot like SARAH'S KEY. Mix in a few centuries of Bad Karma corrupting Anglo-Saxon culture in 1066, betraying Saint Joan in 1431, waging the Napoleonic Wars on the heels of the Reign of Terror, being Germany's patsy two World Wars in a row, and deporting 76,000 Jews to the Auschwitz Death Camp as documented in SARAH'S KEY, and it's not hard to see why the self-styled "Avenging Angels" were allowed by Fate to massacre a bastion of French "culture" this week. What with their over-rated cooking and undeserved reputation for Romance, it may be possible to imagine how some naive young Americans such as "Julia" (Kristin Scott Thomas) can be sucked right in, for awhile. But nearly any critical thinker will reach a day of reckoning, when the Truth about the French knocks them off the bandwagon, as they realize that they've been hoodwinked. Whether it's selling warships to Mad Dog Putin, throwing Israel under the bus, or hauling Jews to Hitler, the French can be counted on to do the craven thing. There may be a few "good" people in France, just as there were a couple right-thinking Nazis, such as Oscar Schindler. But, as Julia learns, SARAH'S KEY is to get out of France.

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Ignore those who say this is a split film, half powerful, half weak—it's all of a piece and it's good!

Author: mmmarks from United States
13 June 2014

I side with those who rate this film very highly, and find those who argue more negatively to be unconvincing. I'm glad to read in some of the other reviews that the novel upon which this film is based is quite wonderful. But please don't let that opinion become a stick with which to beat up a very good film in its own right. (I knew nothing about the novel before watching the film; I didn't find the jumps in time at all confusing—by now such editing has become commonplace and allows us to see connections that would otherwise be much more obscure.) Furthermore, the objections to the modern-story you will read in some user reviews miss the point. Of course it is "flatter" than the story of what happens to Sarah during WWII and after. How could it not be? But that is a necessary dramatic technique. The reporter becomes obsessed by a need to find out more and more—to follow Sarah's story wherever it must take her; and in doing so, she finds a way to cope with problems in her personal life, and she is recaptures a terrible chapter in history that is almost impossible to imagine. The further we get from the time WWII and the holocaust, the more "unreal" such stories are in danger of becoming: fodder for mindless comic-book action movies and alternative realities. I like Captain American, to be sure; and Inglourious Basterds is a great film in its own way, too. But the historical record does need to be kept alive, and brought home with immediacy. And yes, these things could well disappear from memory. This novel and film have found an intriguing way to tie us to the past, and to allow many many fine actors to shine. Highly recommended; but be warned: it is not an easygoing experience!

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See the movie.

Author: Christine Merser ( from United States
18 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Sarah's Key is yet another story about a family who was sent to the camps, torn from their home in the dead of night, never to return. Between Shindler's List, Anne Frank, and oh so many others, we have seen scenes of mothers being separated from their kids over and over again. And yet, each time feels like the first time. Sarah's Key is yet another drama set in the darkest time in modern history, and there are no real surprises in it. You know exactly what is going to happen, but you still hope until the last minute that there will somehow be a happy ending. I can't help wondering if those millions felt that same sense of hope as they walked to their deaths in the showers.

The dialogue in Sarah's Key is not great, which is why it will never be a film for future generations. The imagery and story, however, are fantastic. The movie is worth seeing because there are 6 million stories to be told about the Holocaust, and every time we see or hear one of them, we are one step closer to making sure it doesn't happen again.

Of late, I have been mesmerized by new acting talent in major roles—new actors with better timing who are less "starry," and more real. Sarah's Key is no exception. The young Sarah, played by Melusine Mayance, was wonderful. Much of her performance was silent, and she was more than able to pull it off. Kristen Scott Thomas has to be the saddest actress I know. Seriously, she must be on major meds because I can't can't think of anyone who has played sadder roles. Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer, and my personal favorite, Random Hearts. Sad. Sad. Sad. But again, the dialogue was off. When her daughter asks her if she is having an affair, her answer is that it is more complicated than that. What mother, searching for a Holocaust survivor, would tell her sixteen-year-old daughter that the search was more complicated than an affair and they can discuss it when she gets home? Really?

The French are strange birds, and let's face it, during the war many of them embraced Nazism—or worse, didn't care one way or the other. But the French Resistance was the finest fighting force in all Europe, and their lives were filled with intrigue, with danger around every corner. Such complicated creatures, the French. I get to say that because I was married to a Frenchman, one whose mother lived through WWI and WWII and escaped through Portugal to America with her kids in tow. She told me that everyone has the best and the worst of human nature in them, and this movie shows that struggle between good and evil. At one point, the question is asked, "How do you know what you would have done?" I have asked myself that question many times, and few of us ever have to learn the answer.

See the movie. If the subtitles are putting you off, stick with it; the second half is in English.

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Sarah's Key

Author: ray-cann
29 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I finally saw Sarah's Key and I will say that its an excellent film. Kristin Scott Thomas was great as usual, but the real star was Melusine Mayance who played the young Sarah. She was phenomenal and an actress to keep an eye on in the future. I haven't read the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay, but it's possible the film could have taken several different directions. The time shifts between 1942 and 2009 did not bother me, but I preferred the scenes with Mayance over the scenes with Thomas. Others have commented that the shifts between the two stories was necessary to avoid having another typical "Holocaust" film, but if Mayance carried the film herself from 1942 onwards, it would have been fine with me. I liked how the film portrayed a France that we do not get to see often--their experiences during the Holocaust, Vichy, etc. Yes, there are clichés, but sometimes they cannot be avoided. Hey, it's film-making after all! Overall, I give high praise for this film. It's unfortunate that Thomas and Mayance did not receive Oscar nominations for these role (but is anyone really surprised?!) but they will go far and continue to impress us

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