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Mini Reviews (July 2011)

Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key (July 26/11)

Based on the superb novel by Tatiana De Rosnay, Sarah's Key follows intrepid reporter Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas) as she begins looking into the infamous Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of the Second World War - with the film also detailing the WWII-era exploits of a young Jewish girl (Mélusine Mayance's Sarah) who is taken from her family home in Paris and sent to a concentration camp. There's little doubt that, like its literary predecessor, Sarah's Key initially requires a fair bit of patience from the viewer, as the time-shifting narrative does, at the outset, prevent one from wholeheartedly embracing either storyline - although it's just as clear that the device works a whole lot better here than it did in De Rosnay's book (ie the stuff in the present proves a welcome respite from the relentlessly grim nature of the WWII-era scenes). There quickly reaches a point, however, at which the two timelines become equally engrossing, with the inherently (and increasingly) compelling nature of Julia's ongoing investigation into the past certainly matched by Sarah's continued efforts at staying alive. (It doesn't hurt, either, that both Scott Thomas and Mayance are absolutely spellbinding in their respective roles.) The end result is a stirring, emotionally wrenching drama that more than lives up to its source material, with Aidan Quinn's captivating last-minute appearance as Sarah's adult son only confirming the movie's place as an exceptional piece of work.

out of

© David Nusair