Movie & Book Review: “Sarah’s Key”

I love Netflix. For about 8 dollars per month, I have access to a wide plethora of TV shows & movies on demand.

This week I watched the film ” Sarah’s Key” based on the novel that I read several months ago on my NOOK. I thought the novel, as a whole is an excellent story about a little-known piece of pre WW2 Europe. I also enjoyed how the main protagonist, Julia, uses her journalism skills to find out the truth behind an apartment that her husband’s family has owned since before the Second World War.

What was a bit disappointing for me was how the author turned some of Julia’s story into a soap opera. As one reads the book & sees the movie, one realizes that Julia is trapped in an unhappy marriage. The story could have progressed without the interpersonal drama between Julia & her husband.

Julia discovers that the Jewish family who owned the apartment were among the thousands of French Jews who were arrested & eventually sent to the death camps.

At the beginning of the subtitled film version Sarah, locks her little brother in the bedroom closet & promises to return . Throughout both the novel & the movie, Sarah keeps the key to this closet on her person.

The family arrives at the concentration camp where the women & children are separted from the men.

Later on, she is separated from her mother & sent to a part of the camp that houses only children. Along with an older girl, she escapes from the concentration camp & rescued by two kindly French citizens. Sarah grows up & sheds her Jewish identity. Eventually she emigrates to the United States & Julia tracks down her paper trail and ends up in New York.

Both versions of this story were good, but as an avid reader I much preferred the novel over the film version, This was the first film I’d viewed that employed subtitles & that hindered my understanding of the movie. It is hard for me to keep track of the dialog on the screen. The only American actor in this film is Kristin Scott Thomas . I thought she did a fair job of playing the lead character of Julia. But to me, the star of the show was the child who played young Sarah.

As a Christan with Jewish roots, this story was a tough one for me to read/ watch . But I am glad that I did, as the story of Europe’s Jewish citizens during the reighn of Hitler. I am a proud Christian but choice, but my Jewishness is a gift with which I was born & one that I fully embrace.

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