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REVIEW – Sarah’s Key (2010)

July 25, 2011

FilmJuice have my review of Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s Sarah’s Key.

Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, the film tell the twin stories of a young Jewish girl who was sent to a deportation camp as part of the French government’s infamous War-time Vel D’Hiv Roundup and an American journalist who becomes obsessed with the fact that her husband’s family may have benefited from the roundup:

As these two plot strands slowly unfurl and the connections between the two stories become more and more apparent, Sarah’s Key not only shows us the extent of French complicity in the Holocaust, it also presents us with an explanation of why it is that the events at the Vel D’Hiv were so swiftly forgotten.

While I thought that Paquet-Brenner handed the period elements of the film very well, I felt that he really struggled with the part of the film that tried to make a case for a sort of universal human guilt whereby even the children of people who indirectly benefited from the Holocaust bear a distinct burden of guilt. While this idea neither baffles nor repulses me, I think that it is something of a hard-sell and Sarah’s Key never manages to approach a convincing argument despite an increasingly melodramatic tone. Disappointing but fairly enjoyable up until the 90 minute mark.

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