A little-known tale exposed

A little-known tale exposed

Sarah's Key digs into a fragment of history which people rarely explore - the Velodrome d'Hiver round-up.

In 1942, the police locked up about 13,000 Jews in harsh conditions in the Velodrome, a stadium for cycle races in France.

Very few people escaped. The prisoners were later deported to the Auschwitz camp in Poland, where many died.

At the time of the round-up, Sarah Starzynski, a little Jewish girl, ran away from a transition camp and made her way back to Paris. She wanted to free her little brother who she had locked in a wardrobe when soldiers stormed in to arrest them.

In present-day France, American-born journalist Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas), who lives in the country with her French husband, decides to write a story about the round-up. As she delves deeper, she learns about Sarah and finds herself relating to the little girl more and more.

Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner does an excellent job of blending the two timelines together: whenever Julia spots evidence to prove Sarah's existence, there's a seamless flashback showing how Sarah struggled to leave that particular hint. This technique submerges viewers in the emotions of both characters.

As usual, Scott Thomas delivers a powerful performance. The only downside is the melodramatic English script when the plot moves to America.

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