November 7, 2011

Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key stars the riveting and stellar Kristin Scott Thomas as Julia Jarmond, an American journalist in Paris.  She is writing a magazine article about the Vel'd'Hiv round-up of Jews in France on the 16th and 17th of July in 1942.  I myself had never heard of this unfortunate raid, described by Julia's editor as the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, but a million times worse.  Families were sent to internment camps, then separated to go on to extermination camps.

In the course of her research, Julia finds her life linked to the tragic event after she and her French husband inherit an apartment that once housed the Starzynskis, a Jewish family arrested that day.  She becomes obsessed with searching for Sarah, the young daughter who locked up her brother Michel in the closet in hopes of keeping him from being arrested.  Sarah desperately clings to the key, providing the will to escape and survive so she can fulfill her promise to come back for him.

The film flits back and forth between Sarah's and Julia's stories.  The mass arrest and  camp scenes are understandably harrowing to watch, as well as scenes depicting French collaboration.  But there also poignant stories of bravery and kindness.  Julia goes on a personal journey of her own, as she deals with a troubled marriage and her husband's family who may or may not have been complicit with the French authorities.

  This is a movie that will haunt you, as any Holocaust and World War II film can.  If you want to learn more, read Tatiana de Rosnay's bestselling book.  The DVD is coming out 22 November 2011.

(photo from Imp Awards)

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