Sarah’s Key (‘Elle S’appelait Sarah’)

DRAMA; 1hr 51min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Kristen Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance

Stolen lives: Scott Thomas

In July 1942, 13,000 Jews were arrested in Paris in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup and subsequently sent to concentration camps. Among them were a little girl (a heart-rending Mayance as 10-year-old Sarah Starznyski) and her parents (Natasha Mashkevich and Arben Bajraktaraj), three stricken faces in a panicked mass of them. Decades later, pregnant American journalist Julia Jarmond (Scott Thomas) and her French husband, Bertrand Tezac (Frédéric Pierrot), are renovating his parents’ apartment. Julia is also writing a magazine feature on the Vel’ d’Hiv’ and her discovery that the apartment is the same one from which the Starznyskis were taken, leaving Sarah’s little brother hidden in a locked closet, is shockwave material, especially given that Julia is also confronting a crucial dilemma.


Moving between then and now, director Gilles Paquet-Brenner retraces Sarah’s evolution and through it, Julia’s transformative awakening. Adapted from Tatiana de Rosnay’s 2006 novel, the gripping, fluidly entwined narratives are part riddle and part question mark. What became of Sarah? And how do we become the people we are? The answers take both the women and those affected by them to potent, testing and unexpected places.