Sarah’s Key

Rated 3.0

In director Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s solemn, sentimental take on Tatiana De Rosnay’s novel, Kristen Scott Thomas plays a Paris journalist excavating her family’s unsettling connection to a World War II atrocity. Scott Thomas supplies the understated bilingual dignity we expect from her and from a proper Euro prestige picture, but the script, by Paquet-Brenner and Serge Joncour, labors overmuch to set up its poignant payoffs. There’s a good instinct here for how people’s lives pile up messily atop the devastation of grievous historical circumstances, but it’s spread thin with redundant suffering, stiffly superfluous explanation and short-changed supporting characters. Co-stars include Mélusine Mayance as the eponymous little girl, first hapless, then heroic; and Aidan Quinn, who arrives late and makes much of what little he’s given, as one present-day emotional stakeholder. A solid three-star affair, sure, in which the oft-forgotten fact of French Holocaust participation begets a forgettable film (and not the first, at that).