5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A banal look at an important topic,
This review is from: Sarah's Key [DVD]  (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It is hard to criticise a film about the holocaust, but this one is full of hackneyed film motifs, depends a lot on a rather unimaginative Max Richter score to provoke emotional reactions in the viewer, and is stuffed full of ham actors (with the obvious exception of Kristin Scott Thomas, and Melusine Mayance, who plays young Sarah).
I won't run through the plot here - you can read it in Amazon's product description if you want - but I will say it is packed with "twists and turns", which start to accrete like debris in the final twenty minutes, as the film becomes unable to stay in the same country or with the same characters for more than 60 seconds, instead dashing across the globe and through time in an attempt to tie everything up neatly. This sort of "closure", in a film about people's inability to find closure following the appalling events of the second world war, feels quite immature - and is somewhat indicative of what type of film this is: one which glosses over surfaces while purporting to mine deeper depths.
Still, I can compliment the film on showing how it wasn't just the Germans who fell victim to the disease of anti-Semitism in the early 1940s, and how even apparently innocent bystanders at the time were guilty of silent complicity in the crimes of others (the film prods towards this, when Kristin Scott Thomas's journalist character asks a 20-something colleague how she would react if such atrocities were taking place to day, but doesn't go much further than that).
There have been a lot of films and books about the holocaust, and this one treads little new ground. Kristin Scott Thomas's character says something towards the end of the film about the need to tell stories to keep them alive. While today's generation has a responsibility to keep telling these stories about the holocaust, it also has a responsibility to not make them banal. Sarah's Key meets the first responsibility, but fails to meet the second.