Much like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Sarah’s Key is based on a novel that sits in that uneasy place between fact and fiction. But in Sarah’s case, the premise of the book, and as such, the film, is the factual events of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. Of course as with The Boy, Sarah’s Key is heartbreakingly honest, but essentially a tale of fiction.
The film jumps between the present day quest of an American journalist whose marriage to a Frenchman sees her living and working in Paris, where she is writing an investigative piece on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, and the story of Sarah, a 10 year old Jewish girl rounded up by French Police to be shipped off to Auschwitz in 1942.
During her investigations, she discovers that the apartment her husband is renovating for them to live in, a house that has been in his family since 1942, when Sarah’s family were taken away and the apartment given to a ‘real’ French family.
Whilst this shocking discovery gives Sarah’s Key some of it’s emotional weight, as far as trying to bridge the gap between reality and fiction, it only helps to solidify the fact that this is a tale of pure fiction.
Not that it matters, as the story, played out much like a detective drama, grabs you from the get go and never lets go, throwing in plenty of unexpected plot twists and only stumbling slightly with a ham-fisted ending.
If you liked the aforementioned Boy, you’ll Love Sarah’s Key.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read