This sensitive film deals with on of the most infamous episodes of the occupation of France, the Vel' d'Hiv. In 1942 the French police, co-operating with the invader, rounded up the Jews living in Paris and for 5 days incarcerated them in the velodrome d'hiver, before carting them off to concentration camps. Some 7500 people were in the velodrome, in stifling heat, no sanitation facilities and virtually no food and water.
The film centres on a modern day American journalist (Scott Thomas) who is happily married into a French family. She starts to research the incident for a magazine article, and finds many things that have a personal cost for her.
Her search centres on the story of one particular family with whom she finds she has some connection. In particular she is interested in Sarah, the young daughter of the family. In flashback we see Sarah's story, as she desperately struggles to find a way out of the situation and fulfil a promise made to her young brother.
As she uncovers more of Sarah's story, we are shown the horror of what the Parisien Jews experienced, and she discovers things that have a profound impact on her own life.
It's all too easy to be heavy handed with such a film, leaving the viewer horrified. But this film is more sensitively done, and while not shying away from the horror of what was done it offers hope and shows the best of human nature as well, in the form of the people who help Sarah. Her story is not as simple as you at first expect, and as the journalists quest nears it's end it leads to some very surprising revelations about Sarah, and a surprising outcome for the journalist. It's moving, and shocking in places, but not harrowing like some. There is a lightnessof touch abut the directing that gets it's messages across without forcing them down the throat. Well acted, well scripted, thoughtful and intelligent, this is a very good film that I would not hesitate to recommend.