Sarahs Key Movie Review
admovieso | April 2, 2012 | No comments
Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s Sarah’s Key, or “Elle s’appelait Sarah”, is an upcoming movie about a journalist living in Paris who is working on a story about the Holocaust. She quickly learns that the story is connected to the story of her family. Little by little the story coalesces and moves quickly along and soon the viewer will be halted in their tracks by the events of the film. This is one case where the movie may be better than the book.
In fact, Tatiana de Rosney’s best-selling book is the basis of “Sarah’s Key”. It has been seamlessly adapted for the film by Serge Joncour and Paquet-Brenner. The film was acquired last week by the Weinstein Co. after its debut in Toronto. The new movie release will do especially well in Europe. It’s about the darkest part of modern French history.
The story is told in two different times: Kristin Scott Thomas is journalist Julia Jarmond, an American woman living and working in Paris, and writing a story about 1942 and the French deportations of Jewish families. Melusine Mayance plays 10 year old Sarah who is a member of one of the families in 1942 who is deported to the camps.
Frederic Pierrot plays Julia’s husband, Bertrant Tezac, an arrogant man, who is busy fixing up their apartment for himself, his wife, and their eleven year old daughter. While working on her article, Julia finds out that it’s Bertrand’s family that acquired the apartment when the Jewish family that had lived there was deported to the camps.
In the 1942 story, Sarah hides her four year old brother in the closet in the bedroom just as the police arrive to take the family away. When taken by the police, Sarah promises to return and get her brother but is taken away to a camp and, desperately wanting to save her brother, escapes.
This box office movie moves between two worlds: Julia’s 21st century world and Sarah’s world of 1942. Julia becomes obsessed with finding out what the outcome of Julia’s and her family’s situation was. What she discovers changes the way she sees her own family and her roles as wife and mother. Her discoveries make her take stock of her own situation and make her think about her future.
As Julia learns more about Sarah’s family she learns more about some awful truths about France’s past.
Certain members of the movies cast are magnificent: from Mayance as the young Sarah to Niels Arestrup, who plays a grouchy farmer to a French policeman who is kind to young Sarah.
Kristin Scott-Thomas is as fine in her role as Julia as Melusine Mayance is in her role as Sarah.
Aidan Quinn, George Birt, and Charlotte Poutrel are also memorable in the roles that they play.
“Sophie’s Choice” is perhaps the movie that is most like “Sarah’s Key”. It, too, is about the haunting of people long after WWII by ghosts of the Holocaust.
Francoise Dupertuis’ production design and costumes by Eric Perron are wonderful for both of the times in history that they represent. Editing by Herve Schneid is excellent.
Sarah’s Key is a poignant memoir of a not so long ago time that still has repercussions on family’s of today. Go see it.