Recent films like The Reader and The Boy In The Striped Pajamas have attempted to put a human face on the vast tragedy of the Holocaust, and have reminded us of the legacy and the consequences of that awful period of 20th century history. Just when we thought that there were no more Holocaust stories left to tell, along comes this powerful and moving French drama. The film uses a little known event from French history as a starting point for a deeply affecting drama about guilt, redemption, family secrets, the comfort of strangers, and hope in a time of war and madness. In 1942, French authorities rounded up thousands of Jewish citizens and confined them inside the Paris Velodrome in appalling conditions for several days. They endured stifling heat, a lack of water and food, and basic sanitary conditions like toilets and showers. They were then shipped off to transit camps, where women and children were forcibly separated from their families. One such family was the Starzynskis. When the police burst into their small apartment, ten-year old Sarah (Melusine Mayance) hid her younger brother inside a wardrobe, locking the door behind her. She kept the key throughout her ordeal, hoping to return home to rescue him. The film alternates between these harrowing scenes and the present day, where Paris based American journalist Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas) is writing an article on this disturbing and shameful incident. But as she probes into the past, Julia discovers a personal connection between the fate of Sarah's family and her own family. She learns that her husband's family purchased the Starzynski's home soon after the family was removed. This makes her more determined to discover Sarah's fate, a decision that puts a strain on her marriage. Her quest takes her from present day Paris to Italy and the United States, and her journey has a big impact on her own personal life. Scott Thomas has previously delivered strong performances in other French dramas (Leaving, I've Loved You So Long, etc), but here she finds one of the more emotionally substantial roles of her career. Her intelligent presence, obsessive nature and air of sadness lift this solid and moving drama. Also impressive is Mayance, who brings a feisty quality, resilience and quiet determination to her role as Sarah as she moves through a variety of emotions - fear, doubt, terror – with great conviction. Niels Arestrup, who was so effectively menacing in A Prophet, brings gruff but unexpectedly tender quality to his performance as a farmer who reluctantly shelters Sarah from the authorities. Sarah's Key is based on the best-selling novel written by Tatiana De Rosnay, in which the ghosts of the Holocaust continue to haunt the survivors, who are often wracked with guilt. Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner handles the material with great sensitivity, but avoids descending into cheap melodrama. The harrowing scenes set inside the Velodrome bristle with a palpable sense of outrage. Paquet-Brenner maintains a steady but assured pace as the film builds towards its final, emotionally devastating scene when Julia meets Sarah's son (played by Aidan Quinn), who discovers the truth of his own history. Technical contributions are all excellent, from Francoise Dupertuis' production design, to Eric Perron's costumes, Max Richter's poignant and unobtrusive score, Pascal Ridao's evocative cinematography, and Herve Schneid's editing which fluidly moves between the different time frames. Sarah's Key is a powerful, harrowing and moving tale that explores one of the darkest and most shameful periods of France's history, but it ultimately proves to be something of an uplifting tale of redemption and forgiveness.