Sarah’s Key, a new French film based on Tatiana de Rosnay’s best-selling novel, takes us back to an event known as the “Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup.” Over ten thousand Jews are herded into the Velodrome d’Hiver (Winter Velodrome) while French authorities collaborate with the Nazis to arrange their transport to Auschwitz.
The strength of Sarah’s Key lies in its depiction of ordinary Parisians caught in the Roundup. For days, “Sarah Starzynski” and her parents wait, trapped in deplorable circumstances, while people all around them are siphoned off.
Sarah survives, but she’s haunted by her wartime memories. Years later, her ultimate fate is uncovered by an American journalist (Kristin Scott Thomas) assigned to write 60th anniversary reflections.
Without giving away the ending, let me just say that while the scenes set in 1942 are urgent and compelling, I couldn’t find the adult Sarah in the girl so poignantly played by young Melusine Mayance.
These documented historical facts, still so raw and painful, deserve a better framing story.