Sarah's Key (12A)

Film

sarah_6.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Aug 2 2011

Rather depressingly, Kristin Scott Thomas has said in interviews that there’s less ageism in French cinema, leading to more demanding roles for an actress in her fifties. In ‘Sarah’s Key’, a (mostly) French-language drama, she gives yet another emotionally honest, prime-of-her-career performance. The film is adapted from a best-selling novel, knitting together – not altogether satisfyingly – two stories connected by a shameful episode in France’s past: the round-up in the summer of 1942 of 13,000 Jews in Paris not by Nazis, but by French police. Final destination: Auschwitz.

In the first story, it’s 1942 and the police arrive at the home of a Jewish girl, Sarah (Mélusine Mayance). She immediately sees through the weasel words of the officer and locks her brother in a cupboard, promising to return. Handheld cameras capture a kind of collective unhinging as terror grips the thousands thrown first in a city centre cycle track, the Vélodrome d’Hiver, then shunted to a transit camp.

Sixty years later, Scott Thomas is an American journalist living in France, researching a story on the round-up, who discovers that her husband’s grandparents possibly moved into Sarah’s flat weeks later in August 1942. The two halves are told concurrently, a structure that’s fine for a novel but too schematic on film, doing justice to neither story.

Scott Thomas is tremendous, though; the emotional detail of her performance is never less than gripping, even as the film falters. Shock, sympathy and the horrific realisation that she would have behaved no differently all pass across her face as she listens to the what-else-could-I-have-done complicity of her grandmother-in-law (‘Oh, it was the war. Everything was so confused’) or an elderly woman wearing a prominent crucifix whose flat overlooked the Vélodrome: ‘They fed us such lies about the Jews… Who would I tell? The police?’
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Aug 5, 2011

Duration:

110 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|11
1 person listening
worked for me

Acting was great, some of the scenes were done brilliantly (I just watched how they created the Velodrome in the 'making of' film on the DVD - surprised me). It's also very very depressing, and the basic themes are so upsetting and horrific, it seemed a bit gratuitous to have the additional horror of one particular aspect. But I didn't find the structure problematic - in fact, I thought it worked.

Stevhors

The best film I've seen this year, and the Timeout critic's remarks are hard to understand, the director has done a great job blending the narratives and focus from wartime France to current date. Kristin Scott Thomas is fantastic and restrained in what could have been a mawkish performance by a lesser actor, and Melusine Mayance is terrific as Sarah, surely a star in the making. I also enjoyed the performance of Niels Arestrup as Sarah's guardian, totally grounded in occupied France and the real hero of the film. Why don't great films like this get wider release ?

Philip

I agree with the other comments above this film is definitely worthy of more than 3 stars. Deeply affecting and very moving one of the best films I've seen this year. Audience was also stunned into silence at the end when I saw it . The actress playing the young Sarah was also excellent.

villardi

I thought the film was well made and nformative of little known historical events and a good night out at the movies for anyone seeking an intelligent and involving movie. The story does become a little contrived and overheated but it comes from a novel, so we shouldn't be too hard on it. Fabulous perfomances from Scott Thomas and the young girl playing Sarah, also subtle ones from French supporting actors. Not moving in the epic sense, but emotionally involving and thought provoking historically.

chelsepoet

A formulaic but highly effective tearjerker elevated to a class offering by the acting genius of KST. One day she will win an O scar! e comment you type in this box will appear on the site

Jenny

Brilliant film, harrowing, riveting, to quote John (above) and extremely well acted. This will stay with me for a long, long time. Definitely the best film I have seen this year. KST is a terrific actress, and Melusine Mayance who plays the young Sarah, is superb.

andnowyoutellme

lle s’appelait Sarah (Sarah’s Key) might just be the most perfect film I’ve ever seen. Aside from the fact that it’s a fantastic adaptation, it’s one of those stories that translates beautifully to the big screen, the visual intensity of the images packing a punch that the written word sometimes cannot achieve in full. Flipping effortlessly between the harrowing tragedy of young Sarah’s life, and Julia’s attempts to come to terms with the story she’s taken on at the Parisian English language magazine she works for and the mess that her personal life is rapidly becoming, the two are in stark contrast with each other and compliment each other perfectly. What’s particularly exciting for me, as a viewer, is the representation that Julia’s story offers for those of us who’ve lived the ex-pat life. In the last scene, Julia says “Since moving back to New York, I just feel like a foreigner�, summing up with such simplicity things that we’ve all felt at one point or another. The concept of ‘home’, or at least ‘home country’, just doesn’t exist for us. We are always foreigners, in one form or another. The producers of this film took what in the English speaking world of cinema would be considered a very brave step indeed, and crafted a bilingual film that shows how many of us live our lives. In one particular scene, Julia is talking with her daughter in English when her husband enters the apartment, and the conversation continues seamlessly in French. Because this, again, is how many of us live our lives. It’s nothing short of a joy to see this, something which cannot take place on the page, be portrayed in the film. Not only does it add a sense of realism, but it’s a key part of who Julia is. The only jarring fact is that we’re not seeing more of this in contemporary cinema. A little while ago, I read about how novelists and playwrights are finally beginning to include the internet, mobile phones and mobile internet technology in their stories, after shying away from them for nearly ten years. Perhaps cinema is finally waking up to the stories of multi-cultural families who live their lives in more than one language? We can only hope there is more of this to come.

andnowyoutellme

lle s’appelait Sarah (Sarah’s Key) might just be the most perfect film I’ve ever seen. Aside from the fact that it’s a fantastic adaptation, it’s one of those stories that translates beautifully to the big screen, the visual intensity of the images packing a punch that the written word sometimes cannot achieve in full. Flipping effortlessly between the harrowing tragedy of young Sarah’s life, and Julia’s attempts to come to terms with the story she’s taken on at the Parisian English language magazine she works for and the mess that her personal life is rapidly becoming, the two are in stark contrast with each other and compliment each other perfectly. What’s particularly exciting for me, as a viewer, is the representation that Julia’s story offers for those of us who’ve lived the ex-pat life. In the last scene, Julia says “Since moving back to New York, I just feel like a foreigner�, summing up with such simplicity things that we’ve all felt at one point or another. The concept of ‘home’, or at least ‘home country’, just doesn’t exist for us. We are always foreigners, in one form or another. The producers of this film took what in the English speaking world of cinema would be considered a very brave step indeed, and crafted a bilingual film that shows how many of us live our lives. In one particular scene, Julia is talking with her daughter in English when her husband enters the apartment, and the conversation continues seamlessly in French. Because this, again, is how many of us live our lives. It’s nothing short of a joy to see this, something which cannot take place on the page, be portrayed in the film. Not only does it add a sense of realism, but it’s a key part of who Julia is. The only jarring fact is that we’re not seeing more of this in contemporary cinema. A little while ago, I read about how novelists and playwrights are finally beginning to include the internet, mobile phones and mobile internet technology in their stories, after shying away from them for nearly ten years. Perhaps cinema is finally waking up to the stories of multi-cultural families who live their lives in more than one language? We can only hope there is more of this to come.

john o sullivan

I thought the film was riveting. Id read all this guff about the stories not marrying on metacritic. Do you just check what the yank opinionis ? Compared to the usual weekly rubbish released this is one of the best ive seen this year. And KST yet again she is head and shoulders above her opposition.