Near the end of “Sarah’s Key” star Kristin Scott Thomas says, “When a story is told, it is not forgotten.” The story she’s referring to is the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup, a 1942 mass arrest of Jews in Paris by the French police. To tell the tale “Sarah’s Key” jumps between past and present.
Based on Tatiana De Rosnay’s international best-seller, Scott Thomas plays Julie, an American writer in Paris working on an article about the little known incident which saw ten thousand Jews—including 10-year-old Sarah Starzynski (Mélusine Mayance) and her parents—ripped from their homes and sent to internment camps. While researching the story she finds a connection between her French in-laws and the Starzynski family.
Overlooked on its theatrical release “Sarah’s Key” is getting a well deserved second life on DVD. Although it has a tendency to dip into melodrama from time to time the movie’s story of survival and guilt is buoyed by two remarkable performances.
Scott Thomas is at the center of the movie and delivers a beautifully restrained and natural performance as a woman in an unhappy marriage but it is Mélusine Mayance as young Sarah that brings fire to the movie. Her take on a young girl who escapes from a concentration camp humanizes an unimaginable atrocity.
“Sarah’s Key” is a tearjerker that peters out in its final third, but is nonetheless a potent story of survival.