Mélusine Mayance plays the title character in Holocaust melodrama Sarah’s Key
SARAH'S KEY (Gilles Paquet-Brenner). 102 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (August 12). See listing Rating: NN
Equating a Jewish girl's desperate attempt to outrun the Holocaust with the mid-life crisis of a contemporary journalist, Sarah's Key is a melodrama for the same audience that bought into The Reader's painfully discreet marriage of war crimes and illiteracy. Anything that might convey the genuine horror of the monstrous acts committed against French Jews is delicately avoided by director Gilles Paquet-Brenner's respectful Steadicam.
Kristin Scott Thomas is largely wasted as Julia, the journalist whose story on the Vélodrome roundup of 1942 leaves her obsessed with a Jewish girl (Mélusine Mayance) who may have escaped - and whose family may have owned the apartment that now belongs to Julia's husband's family.
As in Tatiana De Rosnay's novel, the action cuts back and forth between 1942 and 2009, wasting half the running time on a framing story that means absolutely nothing. (The presence of Scott Thomas reminded me of how well Anthony Minghella's adaptation of The English Patient pared Michael Ondaatje's novel down to its essentials.)
The last-act arrival of Aidan Quinn perks things up a little, but the movie sees him as just another means of jerking a few easy tears.