SARAH’S KEY is a French movie partly in English about an American journalist in Paris in 2009 who finds her personal life entwined with the story of a 10-year-old Jewish girl during the Holocaust who escaped from a concentration camp outside Paris in a desperate attempt to save her brother’s life. Though not particularly religious except only lightly, SARAH’S KEY is still a powerful, exceptional movie that offers a ray of hope and goodness in the midst of tragedy.
SARAH’S KEY is one of the best movies of the year. It’s a story rife with the tragedy of the Holocaust but which also ends on an uplifting note of hope celebrating life.
In the movie, an American journalist, Julia Jarmond, working for a magazine in Paris in 2009 decides to write a story about the notorious roundup of Jews in Paris in 1942 by the Nazi-controlled puppet government. Most of the Jews wound up being gassed to death at Hitler’s Auschwitz concentration camp.
Julia and her husband Bertrand are about to move into an old apartment owned by his family. She learns that the family acquired the apartment one month after the family of Jews living there were rounded up by the French police. She resolves to find out the truth.
As Julia searches the Holocaust records, the movie shows what happened to the Starzynski family, especially 10-year-old Sarah, who’s separated from her parents. Sarah desperately tries to get back to the apartment. That’s because, when the police came to pick up the family, Sarah told her 4-year-old brother, Michel, to hide in a hidden locked closet. Now, Sarah’s trying to convince an older couple living outside Paris to help her get back there so she can unlock the closet door and save her brother.
These flashbacks show how Sarah tries to get back to the apartment to save Michel. Meanwhile, Julia discovers she’s pregnant again. Her husband doesn’t want the child because she’s had two miscarriages since their 12-year-old daughter was born and he doesn’t want to become an old father.
Will Julia choose life? Will Sarah get back to Paris and unlock the closet door to release her brother?
SARAH’S KEY is an emotionally powerful, exceptional movie. Kristin Scott Thomas gives an Oscar worthy performance as the journalist uncovering so many truths. She is superb, as is Mélusine Mayance as the young Sarah.
Terrible tragedies occur in SARAH’S KEY. And, the movie is not overtly religious. However, the powerful ending celebrates life, not death and tragedy. Also, as several people risk everything to help Sarah, the movie clearly stresses how important doing the right thing can be. Thus, the movie’s primary message seems to be, “Choose life.” That includes the movie’s abortion subplot.
There is some brief foul language in SARAH’S KEY, but the scenes about the Holocaust and about Sarah’s story are told in a restrained manner that shows filmmakers how to tell such stories in a non-graphic, but still powerful way. Still, some really sad tragedies occur in SARAH’S KEY, despite the inspiring, positive ending. MOVIEGUIDE® therefore advises caution.
(BBB, ACACAC, C, PC, RH, L, VV, N, A, D, M) Very strong moral worldview with an anti-abortion message that also stresses doing the right thing and taking action against National Socialist, big government Anti-Semitism, plus light Christian element where older woman who helps Jewish child is a Christian and man makes politically correct, revisionist history comment about the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan but older heroine rebukes him; four “d” and “h” obscenities, four light profanities and long shot of a corridor in a stadium crowded with Jews being deported where people have gone to bathroom; intense violent themes surrounding the Holocaust (but not graphic) includes police round up family, guards separate Jewish husbands from wives and children, guards separate Jewish mothers from children under 12 and physically stop mothers from preventing this outrage, guards pull children from their mothers, guards finally use some hoses on mothers and children to separate them, implied suicide and talk of suicide in at least three short scenes, young girl contracts fatal disease and dies, discovery of dead child’s body but body not shown, woman falls from ledge in crowded stadium and her dead body is briefly shown but no graphic wounds depicted, and man wants his wife to get an abortion but she doesn’t; no sex; two 10-year-old girls running away from French concentration camp escape and take a swim without their tops off isolated river bank so one-girl’s pre-pubescent chest is shown under water as she floats on her back; brief alcohol use; some smoking; and, Anti-Semitism but rebuked, husband tries to talk his wife into having an abortion because he doesn’t want to become an “old father” and she’s had two miscarriages since their 12-year-old daughter was born but he fails, woman becomes estranged from husband, it is said that a Holocaust survivor baptized her son in a church because she became so afraid that he would never be safe as long as he could be identified as a Jew, and movie tells some tragic events that will upset people but ends on a very strong positive and uplifting, but highly emotional, note.
SARAH’S KEY is a French movie partly in English about an American journalist in Paris in 2009 doing a story about the roundup of Jews in that city in 1942. Soon, Julia Jarmond learns that the apartment her French husband’s family owned for years belonged to a Jewish family rounded up by the French police. Julia resolves to find out the truth. As she does just that, the movie shows what happened to the Starzynski family, especially 10-year-old Sarah, who’s separated from her parents. Sarah desperately tries to get back to their Paris apartment. That’s because, when the police came to pick up the family, Sarah told her 4-year-old brother to hide in a hidden locked closet. What will Sarah and Julia find?
SARAH’S KEY is an emotionally powerful, exceptional movie. Kristin Scott Thomas gives an Oscar worthy performance as the American female journalist. Terrible tragedies occur in SARAH’S KEY. And, the movie is not overtly religious. However, the powerful ending celebrates life, not death. Also, as several people risk everything to help Sarah, the story clearly stresses doing the right thing. SARAH’S KEY is an excellent movie for mature moviegoers.