Paris, 1942. With France under Nazi rule, thousands of Jewish families are arrested by the gendarmes, held for days in squalor at the Vel' d'Hiv bicycle stadium and sent to death camps. "Sarah's Key" dramatizes the atrocity by focusing on one family, their 10-year-old daughter and her young brother, whom she locks in a concealed closet to hide from the police. Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner's drama centers on expat American journalist Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas), who digs into Sarah's history. Julia, who feels that her French in-laws indirectly profited from wartime roundups, visits New York City and Florence to interview survivors and seek closure on the story that consumes her. The film is a compelling, handsomely produced history lesson and personal drama, with parallel stories of Sarah in the 1940s and Julia in the present uncovering the horror that French collaborators inflicted on their own nation and Sarah's family in particular. The psychic scars of the 1942 mass arrests even entangle one of Sarah's present-day relations (Aidan Quinn), who is forced to confront family history that others preferred to forget. The film is a worthy addition to the groaning shelf of Holocaust-themed dramas. One wonders when the Rwandan genocide, American slavery, Stalin's purges, the extermination of Native Americans, Armenia's ethnic slaughter and the mass killings of Muslims in Bosnia will receive similar attention.
- ★★★ out of four stars
- Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including disturbing situations involving the Holocaust. In English and subtitled French.
- Theater: Edina.
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HOW TO LIVE FOREVER
For the late fitness guru Jack LaLanne, longevity was a matter of pep, perspiration and a positive attitude. Suzanne Sommers promotes hormones as a fountain of youth. Documentary filmmaker Mark Wexler interviews them, a 101-year-old English marathon runner who smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish, a 72-year-old Japanese "elder porn" star, and a raft of scientists who predict that one day pharmaceuticals or nanobots will keep our bodies running forever. Wexler's quest to discover the secret of postponing extinction was spurred by his mother's passing and his own hiccuping memory and thickening waistline, but for all his personal investment in the topic, he doesn't uncover any breakthroughs. "How to Live Forever" is a hodgepodge of talking-head vignettes including authorities on aging and daft, wrinkly nursing-home residents whose dotage doesn't seem enviable. FYI: Eat sensibly, exercise, keep your chin up and choose ancestors with good genes.