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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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Its 1942 and France is under the Nazi jack boot, yet thanks to the plucky resistance the fascists are being thwarted at every turn ' or not as it turned out. This is a tale that has its roots in the now infamous round up of the Jews of Paris in the summer of 1942. They were mostly women and children and were herded into the city's velodrome, where they were kept in stifling temperatures with no amenities, including lavatories, food and water.

Sarah is living in a building in the Jewish quarter with her parents and younger brother. When the gendarmes came calling, she hid him in a wardrobe, locking him in and taking the key. Once they reached the velodrome they realised their mistake in having left little Michelle behind. The Jews were then taken to transit camps before finally going to the death camps including Auschwitz. This was all done by the French authorities, albeit at the behest of their Uber Lords.

Meanwhile in the modern day, Julia Jarmond's (Kristen Scott-Thomas) husband has inherited that self same apartment from his ailing mum. Julia is working for a new French magazine and is doing a piece on the 'round up' and has done some digging as to who these people were who had been in her new home.

The story flits back and forward telling the ordeals of Sarah and her fellow captives, in line with the unfolding truths that Julia finds increasingly difficult to accept. This is an extremely well acted and crafted film that deals with an emotional scar on the French psyche in an open and honest way. President Mitterrand actually apologised for French complicity in these deportations of 76,000 Jews. It took that long for France to face up to that part of her past, but at least she did it. This whole episode was told in a much more acute way in the film 'The Round Up', this film has some resonance with that but also 'Sophie's Choice'. There are fine performances all round and an excellent musical score, the whole thing exudes quality.

This is not an action flick and not straightforward good versus evil, as some of the Gendarmes are portrayed as good guys in the wrong place etc. Whilst it does not show some of the grittier sides to the subject in hand, it still faces up to them. It is in French, some English and a smattering of German, that is not always translated. Fans of war history films and Kristen Scott-Thomas will want to see this. A special word has to be said about the performance by Melusine Mayance who plays Sarah, she is utterly convincing, a brilliant performance. Write and director Gilles Paquet-Brennan has made an interesting and thoughtful film, that does him credit.
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I like what the filmmaker is attempting to do in this cinematic rendition of the true story of the Starzynski family's encounter with French fascism during World War II. The viewer is treated to a complex and harrowing tale of a Jewish family living in Paris at the time of the Vichy regime. This was a period when Petain ordered his security forces, as a 'good-will' gesture to the Gestapo, to round up thousands of Jewish nationals in the area for eventual deportation to the death camps. The film is broken up into three distinct but interconnecting phases that show how incidents from our distant past can continue to impact our lives well into the future with all kinds of emotional and social implications. First, there is the tragic scene when Sarah and her family become separated from her young brother as they are transported south to a transit camp. Then comes the heroic efforts of Sarah as she returns to Paris to rescue her brother, only to learn of his demise and having to restart her haunted life as an orphan with a new identity and, eventually, a new country. In the final stage, we see the inspirational efforts of a very determined journalist - whose family had taken over the Starzynski flat in 1942 - to find Sarah and discover what really happened to her during those dark days of the war. She recognizes that a great injustice has been done and, like French society around her, she has to deal with her conscience as she prepares to take ownership of the place where it all started. The key to the closet where Sarah's brother was, unfortunately, locked in serves as that symbolic device by which the dark secrets of French society will ultimately be unlocked in the painful search for the truth and reconciliation.
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on May 11, 2012
This was so disappointing. The book was so well done. I couldn't put it down. It was incredibly written and had so much feeling. The movie fell so short of the book. For one...did no one review the English subtitles before mass producing it? The subtitles made no sense! You can switch the words around when translating to English! It's allowed and actually makes sense that way! Two...seriously? Bertrand was supposed to be gorgeous! It didn't even stick to the story saw nothing of the daughter's involvement in the search for sarah...nothing of Bertrand's betrayal....nothing of the outrage the reporter experienced in her feeling in such an emotional not get the movie if you expect it to be anything like the book. :-(
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on April 24, 2013
I cannot express how disappointed I was about this product. Both title and description were totally misleading, i.e., the title was given as Sarah's Key, with the French title appearing underneath, in brackets, clearly indicating that this film was being shown in its English-language version. To confirm this, under "Languages", it says French, English, and under "Subtitles", it says English, French -- both of these classifications, therefore, indicating that the film is available in both languages. Well, this is not true. While the headings on the menu are given in both languages, the film itself is only available in French. This may not be the end of the world for someone who can read the English subtitles, but I had given this film as a gift to a friend who is vision-impaired. I cannot underline the embarrassment that this caused me when I was told about it. How could this escape quality control on the product? Or am I naïve in thinking that there is still quality control?
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on January 16, 2012
What a powerful film. The ending will blow you away. Another film on the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup you say? Yes, but so much more. The meeting of the past with the present is rendered with great mastery. Maybe the best film I've seen this year. A must see! 10/10
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on March 8, 2016
I found this unwatchable due to the appalling subtitling. Even with my limited French I was aware of inaccurate translation, and the "English" varied from confusingly structured sentences (necessitating rewinds and replays) to total nonsense. When I got to "we need to sweaters to find out" (approx. 40 mins in), I gave up. Subtitles are enough of a barrier anyway. These subtitles needed subtitles! They certainly can't have been done by a native English speaker. Perhaps by translation software??

Also I agree - it wasn't obvious that there would be French with English subtitles.
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on September 21, 2014
I bought it for my daughter because she read the book this summer as a requirement for her grade 9 English course next semester, but I didn't realize it was in French with English subtitles. But I have to say it wasn't really noted as such either on the website. So I will have to repurchase it because she hates subtitles! To be fair,the grading was not for the movie but for not making it clear to the buyer that it was in a different language. No disrespect to the french language!
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on January 6, 2012
I read the book Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay as did my sister and my mother and we all loved it. We were looking forward to this movie in a huge way. We were highly disappointed by the English sub titles. They were confusing and inaccurate in places. My mother's first language is french and she said a number of times - "That's not what he/she said". I would recommend you rent this if you must see it. Personally, I am putting it in the box for the next garage sale. I'll stick with the book, thanks.
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on August 16, 2014
Expected a choice of French or English NOT French with English subtitles
Also the tape played for 2-3 minutes then stopped and skipped a bit then started
again. After 2-3 minutes the same thing happened
Very disappointed.
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on February 9, 2014
If you have read the book, the movie follows it quite closely. The acting is excellent. Highly recommend if you want an insight into Treatment of Jewish residents in France by french police under Nazi control.
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