Elle s’appelait Sarah [Sarah’s Key] (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Elle s’appelait Sarah</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">Sarah’s Key</strong>] (2010)

(On-demand Video, April 2012) I’ve had my fill of World-War-2 holocaust dramas, and my expectations about any new one tend to run low: The same themes, the same over-examined period of history, often the same maudlin excesses.  What else is new?  And yet, Elle s’appelait Sarah manages to do a few unusual things.  It tackles the French collaboration in the deportation of its Jewish citizen, it splits its drama between 1942 and its consequences as seen from 2009; and it remains resolutely unsentimental about the impact of the war.  It’s certainly not a cheery film, and the way in which at least one character dies is fit to give nightmares.  But the film itself is well-executed, capably played and directed with some finesse.  The split-era story is meshed more cleverly than you’d except at first, and the theme of self-deception is handled effectively.  It’s a bit long, mind you, and the lack of happy endings is bound to grate.  Still, the result manages to distinguish itself after years of Oscar-baiting films all revolving about this or that aspect of WW2 and/or the Holocaust.  That’s quite a bit more than anyone would expect.

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