Sarah’s Key Review
By Bret Dorman
Remember that time all those Jewish people were rounded up and sent to work in camps? And no, I’m not talking about The Nazis. I’m talking about… The French! Dun dun dun!
That’s the historical background of Sarah’s Key, which also focuses on a modern day story of regret and denial.
The Story: Julia (Kristen Scott Thomas) is working on a story about The French and Jewish people. The story turns personal when she discovers she may have a connection to one young Jewish girls life. The deeper she digs, the sadder things get. Also, The French have the best child actors.
Tackling Anti-Semitism, especially when it comes to WWII era rounding up/extermination of Jews, can be a touchy subject. On the one hand, it could feel like you are exploiting what happened just to get a cheap emotional reaction. On the other, its just plain fact that a lot of sad stuff happened.
Sarah’s Key, like any “good” WWII sad story, is split up into past and present. The present deals with Julia as she uncovers more and more about one girl while dealing with her own personal issues. The past is all about Sarah (Melusine Mayance) and how she must escape the imprisonment camps to race home and save her brother.
Most of the story does center around Sarah and she drives most of the emotional parts as well. The more we learn about Sarah and see her trials and tribulations in racing home to try and save her brother, the more interested we are in her story. Even as she grows up, the story focuses on her decisions and as the present day characters try to uncover ‘the mystery’ of Sarah.
In the end though there really is no ‘mystery’. The biggest emotional part comes halfway into the movie and the ret of the story just wanders about as characters dig deeper for the truth. I kept feeling this sense of dread like in Oldboy, a movie that very much is about finding the truth at any cost even if the truth is something you don’t want to know. But Sarah’s Key never had that moment.
This movie seeks to find the truth and when Julia goes around telling other people the truth they get all mad then later reconcile with it and nothing really happens. After the ‘big reveal’ halfway through the movie looses its drive.
In Conclusion, Sarah’s Key isn’t about exploiting what happened just to make you sad. The first half is very well done and engaging and moving while the second half looses its drive and just becomes sad people finding out sad things and still being sad.
Final Grade: C+