Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sarah's Key (Rhoades)

“Sarah’s Key”

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Think of this is an Anne Frank tale gone horribly wrong. When French police carry out the Nazi-decreed Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in 1942, the mass arrest of 13,152 Jews, most of whom are shipped off to their death at Auschwitz, a young girl named Sarah Starzynski hides her brother in a closet. She takes the key with her, planning to return and rescue him.
The prisoners are transported to an indoor cycling arena, where they were held for a week without food or toilets, before being shipped to death camps. With the help of a friendly guard, Sarah and her friend escape, returning to Paris for her brother.
This story unfolds through the eyes of a present-day journalist, Julia Jarmond, whose husband has inherited the house where Sarah’s brother was hidden. When Jarmond starts to investigate what became of Sarah – and Sarah’s brother – she unlocks deeper mysteries.
“Sarah’s Key” is telling its horrific story at the Tropic Cinema.
Sarah is played by 11-year-old Mélusine Mayance (“Un soupçon d’innocence,” “La peau de chagrin”). Her naïve outlook may raise questions, but Mélusine is convincing as the determined sister.
Julia Jarmond is played by Kristin Scott Thomas (“The English Patient,” “The Horse Whisperer”). Having lived in France since she was nineteen, Thomas considers herself more French than British.
Based on the book “Elle s’appelait Sarah” by Tatiana de Rosnay, many of the events described in “Sarah’s Key” really happened. In 1995 that the president of France, Jacques Chirac, officially apologized for the role French policemen and civil servants played in the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup.
“It’s something the French have been extremely wary of talking about," says Kristin Scott Thomas. “It’s been hidden away for a very, very long time.”
Thomas herself has a connection to the Holocaust. Her in-laws escaped the concentration camps by hiding in rural France. Today, her mother-in-law belongs to a group of French citizens who place plaques on buildings around Paris marking where children disappeared during the war.
“It’s definitely remained in the air, this idea of people who collaborated with the Nazis,” Thomas says. “During the time that I’ve been living in France, a great number of cases have been brought against people who are accused of doing terrible atrocities during the war.”
As Anne Frank wrote, “I noticed that not all questions can be asked and that many whys can never be answered.” Nevertheless,  “Sarah’s Key” unlocks some heartbreaking history.
[from Solares Hill]

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