Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 30
  2. Negative: 2 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Jul 18, 2011
    90
    The movie gathers momentum with a steady, assured pace, accumulating incidents, characters, secrets and lies until the rush of events is absolutely transfixing. Cinema can sometimes rival the novel in compulsive intensity and Sarah's Key is one such example.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Aug 28, 2011
    88
    That makes Sarah's Key that rare Holocaust tale that punches through the cobwebs of history and its dry, inhuman statistics, and brings that terrible past to life.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jul 21, 2011
    80
    Sarah's Key is more powerful than you expect, maybe even more powerful than it should be.
  4. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Aug 4, 2011
    75
    It does provide audiences with the satisfaction of seeing and hearing an important truth expressed, and that's better than making you feel good. That's making you feel something.
  5. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jul 28, 2011
    75
    Sarah's story is harrowing and powerfully told, as she valiantly attempts to escape and return home with the key to free her brother. Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner doesn't stint on depicting the indignities and violence inflicted even on children, and Mayance's performance is exceptionally strong.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Jul 28, 2011
    75
    A movingly told tale of tragedy and its consequences, not just for the players in the original tragedy but also for those touched by their actions, in an ever-widening circle of aftershocks.
  7. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Jul 28, 2011
    75
    Excellent performances make the movie effective. Yet the flashbacks have a depth and resonance largely absent from the modern scenes.
  8. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jul 28, 2011
    75
    Unlike most films about the Holocaust, which has provided artists with an infinite array of heartrending stories and tragedies, Sarah's Key doesn't spend much time recounting the horrors that Jews suffered during World War II.
  9. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Jul 21, 2011
    75
    Sarah's Key is, for the most part, an exercise in reserve. We never see Hitler, never enter battle. Paquet-Brenner (Pretty Things, Walled In), rightly tells his Holocaust story as it now lives: through survivors and descendants.
  10. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Jul 21, 2011
    75
    Veers in and out of conventionality, and ultimately sinks into it at the end. But first, it deals with old types in new ways, raising issues as it raises hackles.
  11. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 20, 2011
    75
    The Holocaust scenes are wrenching, the past-meets-present dialectics less so.
  12. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jul 19, 2011
    75
    Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner has done an elegant job of reducing a complex piece with many components into a riveting narrative that grabs you by the lapels and refuses to loosen its grip.
  13. Reviewed by: Alissa Simon
    Jul 18, 2011
    70
    Working in a classical style and genre that rep a far cry from his previous work ("Pretty Things," "Gomez and Tavares, "UV"), Pacquet-Brenner's direction is always respectful if never entirely subtle.
  14. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Aug 4, 2011
    67
    Although Sarah's Key sometimes seems as though it's about to create a moral equivalency between the two tales, it never crosses that delicate line.
  15. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Aug 4, 2011
    63
    Luckily, the movie has Scott Thomas. She knows her radiance can't be helped, so she uses it here like a searchlight.
  16. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jul 28, 2011
    63
    Although this sober film spares us some of the grim, survivalist details, the harrowing adventure from a girl's perspective is so compelling that Julia's simultaneous sleuthing seems like an unnecessary distraction.
  17. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jul 27, 2011
    63
    Cuts back and forth between a tragic story involving the Holocaust and an essentially trivial, feel-good story about a modern-day reporter. It's an awkward fit and diminishes the impact of the earlier story.
  18. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Aug 1, 2011
    60
    Exceptional turns by Mélusine Mayance and the ever-excellent Kristin Scott Thomas illuminate a tense and compelling story. The contrived modern-day framing works less well.
  19. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Jul 28, 2011
    60
    Shown in flashbacks, the story of 10-year-old Sarah Starzynski is powerful, thanks in large part to the luminous screen presence of young Mélusine Mayance.
  20. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Jul 21, 2011
    60
    Though the picture is lovingly and often quite strikingly shot and styled, there are too many dangling and swiftly clipped threads for the film to amount to more than another tasteful Sunday matinee set against one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.
  21. Reviewed by: Pam Grady
    Jul 20, 2011
    60
    That Sarah's Key never quite descends into melodrama is a credit to the strength of Scott Thomas' performance, more than to the writing.
  22. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jul 19, 2011
    60
    When Sarah's Key leans into the horror (as it should), it's harrowing. Alas, that's only half the time.
  23. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Jul 22, 2011
    55
    The glib story and hectoring structure undermine the filmmakers' best intentions.
  24. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 20, 2011
    50
    Sarah's need to save her brother provides the initial raison d'être, but with the mystery is resolved early on Sarah's Key turns into a flimsy meditation on grief.
  25. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 22, 2011
    40
    A dramatic tale of survival and horrific memories struggles against distracting melodrama in Sarah's Key, and unfortunately, melodrama wins.
  26. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 21, 2011
    40
    Ms. Scott Thomas is as intelligent and attractive as ever, but the synthetic world her character inhabits can't compete with a harrowing past that depicts French complicity in Nazi atrocities.
  27. Reviewed by: Rachel Saltz
    Jul 21, 2011
    40
    Undone by its very premise: that the two stories it tells can coexist in the same film.
  28. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Jul 19, 2011
    40
    Dutifully follows the template of scores of movies about the Shoah: wringing from atrocity the most unseemly sentimentality.
  29. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jul 22, 2011
    38
    Sarah's Key belongs to the Holocaust for Dummies section of Harvey Weinstein's History for Dummies series of mer etricious glossy dramas that ransack global events and turn them into middlebrow women's weepies to fill his trophy case.
  30. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Jul 18, 2011
    38
    Sarah's Key becomes a musing ("meditation" would be too generous) on the importance of uncovering the past that fails to honestly contemplate why such an act is significant.
User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Aug 29, 2014
    4
    A film is not necessarily successful for featuring a moving depiction of difficulties revolving around the Holocaust. Sarah's Key misses the mark, especially with Kristin Scott-Thomas. Full Review »
  2. Jul 26, 2014
    7
    An intelligent movie: good plot, original idea, talks about a fact that only few people know (Vel D'Hiv). Maybe the ending is a bit long and there are quite a lot of characters: sometimes it is difficult to follow them. In the complex me and my gf appreciated the movie. Full Review »
  3. Apr 23, 2012
    10
    Interesting and heartbreaking movie in many respects. However....I watched this movie with English sub-titles and these were the worst sub-titles that I have seen in 40 years of watching foreign films. The company who did the subtitles obviously did not either speak French or English - one or the other. The subtitles looked as if they had been done by a computer generated program like Babel Fish or Google Translate with all of the faux pas and oddities that come with using those programs. To me, the screwed up subtitles were off-putting and detracted from the movie. Besides the screwed up translations, there were spelling errors such as words with a Quote Mark at one end of the sentence and no closing quote. One line said something like "I will meet u". instead of "you". These are mistakes that should not have happened in the international release of a movie. Full Review »