Two "Books to Film" Movies
Sarah's Key and The Help were both very popular books in women's book clubs last year. I read The Help and I wish I hadn't. I didn't read Sarah's Key and I wish I had.
They were both quickly snatched up for films for the same audience that loved the books. Both had plots that were about difficult times in history as portrayed by journalists.
The Help takes place in the 1950's in Jackson Mississippi. Skeeter, an aspiring journalist interviews black maids about their relationship with their white housewife employers. This film and book has been very controversial. Loved by those who loved the book. Criticized by the literati like the New Yorker and the New York TImes as well as many black women. IMO I couldn't decide if it wanted to be a serious story about race in the south or a feel good chic flick. Some very good dramatic scenes were followed by laugh lines. My gut told me that it was more Hysterical than Historical. The best thing for me about this movie was the appearances of Cicely Tyson and Sissy Spacek. My favorite character was Celia, poor white trash played by an actress new to me, Jessica Chastain. Several good performances but her stood out.
Sarah's Key tells the story of the French rounding up Jews in 1942 holding them in terrible conditions and sending them the to the death camps. Sarah attempts to protect her younger brother by locking him in a closet and the rest of the film portrays what happens to Sarah. Her story in unearthed by a journalist (Kristen Scott Thomas) who finds out her in-laws lived in the apartment that Sarah and her family had resided. Adian Quinn does an excellent of playing Sarah's son whom the journalist meets late in her search for the true story.
Unlike The Help, this movie felt real to me and that the author had carefully researched the subject for her novel.