Friday, July 29, 2011
'Sarah's Key' is adapted from a book about a lesser known incident during World War II called the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup when the Jews were rounded up in France and sent to concentration camps. Specifically it focuses on a young girl named Sarah who hides her younger brother before she and her family are taken by the Nazis by locking him in a closet. The film jumps back and forth between the 1940's and present day when Kristen Scott Thomas is investigating what eventually happened to Sarah. The solid supporting cast includes Aidan Quinn, a great French actor named Niels Arestrup who was particularly menacing in 2009's 'A Prophet', and a young girl named Melusine Mayance who gives a great performance as Sarah and to whom the director refers (and deservedly so) as the French Dakota Fanning. The film is partially in French and partially in English.
Movies about the Holocaust are tough to review. You either 'like' them or you don't. And I hesitate to use the word 'like' because it's obviously not a likable subject. Quite the contrary, it's about as horrific as it gets. So instead I'll change that statement to say that only some are willing to appreciate a new look into an uglier chapter in history. And if you're willing to endure it (and it's always a good idea to bring tissues) these films are generally very powerful. Because this one is centered around a child, it is somewhat reminiscent of 'Life is Beautiful', which I believe to be the best film about the Holocaust, and even closer in theme to a lesser known, underrated film from 2008 called 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.' This one isn't quite as good as 'Beautiful' but it's on par with 'Pajamas', and if you find these films moving and worthwhile then you should check this one out even though it doesn't really cover much new ground.