Keeva Stratton,Â Quip Creative
Directed by: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance
American-born journalist Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas) is investigating the heinous truth behind one of France\’s darkest days, when she finds a link between her husband\’s family and an atrocious event. Julia discovers the story of a ten-year-old girl named Sarah and her family, who were removed from their home by the French police, and whose tragic story becomes a particularly personal quest for Julia to uncover in full.
She soon discovers that she is pregnant, which makes her decision whether to reveal or hold onto this horrific discovery even more challenging. As she contemplates her own family\’s future, she is drawn into the terrible tragedy of Sarah and the horrors of World War II. The film is told through a combination of the present day and flashback sequencesâ€”many heart-wrenching and frightening.
The film is at times incredibly powerful, but at other moments, a touch overdone. The narrative contrast between present-day France and the story of young Sarah, in the heart of the Jewish imprisonment, is a great driver of the plot, but the film itself is let down, towards the end, by a few performances that take the drama one level too far. As with many films attempting to deal with such unimaginable horrors, the fine balance between the telling of a personal tale and overt moralising seems difficult to get right.
Like many depictions of World War II, this film can be unbearably sad. Being set in France however, adds a fresh take on the more familiar German narrative and reminds us that many good people did awful things during the war.
As a mother, I found the story of Sarah particularly hard to experience. Admittedly, this is why it will be considered to have achieved its taskâ€”reminding us of the many victims of this atrocity. The message of the film is clear: we are all only a few short steps from submitting to hate and fear. And, had the film ended thirty minutes earlier, it would have in my view achieved this without taking the unnecessary step of involving Sarah\’s now grown son.
While it seems a little dark for the festive calendar, Sarah\’s Key is no doubt a very well constructed film that is well acted and scripted. It is in many ways a haunting reminder of the very personal nature of these large-scale atrocities.
Sarah\’s Key is in cinemas now.
Category: Film & TV