I've really enjoyed the two books I've read by Tatiana de Rosnay, Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept. When I saw that Kristen Scott Thomas was playing the lead in Sarah's Key, and it was on Netflix streaming, I was really interested. The lead character is Julia, an American journalist living in Paris, married into a French family, and Thomas was great in the French film, I've Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime) from 2008 so I was excited at how she'd be able to play a dual Anglo/Franco character.
Sarah's Key is Julia's story as she researches an event that took place in Paris during the Holocaust. In the neighborhood where she and her husband, Bertrand, have recently moved, she discovers that the apartment they moved into belonged to a Jewish family who was rounded up by the French in the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. She starts looking into what happened to that family and can't find an outcome for their daughter, Sarah. The story moves back and forth in time showing us the July 1942 Roundup, where Jewish families were put into the Velodrome d'Hiver for days in horrid conditions before being sent off to camps. As Julia looks for what became of Sarah, we get to see her journey, escape, and attempt to get back to her brother.
I won't tell you what Sarah's key actually is because the book takes quite a while building that up, but the movie gives it away almost instantly. That was one of my big problems with this particular transition from book to film. The book focuses on Julia, and we only discover things about Sarah as she does. The movie shows us Sarah's story almost from the beginning rather than letting us discover the mystery with Julia. Sadly, this causes the film to lose much of its tension and the mystery of what will happen. While the brief glimpse into another aspect of the Holocaust is interesting - the Roundup was done by French police, not the Germans. But they don't go into it as much - there is a lot of guilt by Bertrand's family about not having been harmed, but not much about the significance of the event. Overall, it is very good - about half English, half-French - but as I'd really enjoyed the book, the movie just didn't live up to its source.