As time goes by, it seems there are fewer films up to the task of portraying the Holocaust.

As time goes by, it seems there are fewer films up to the task of portraying the Holocaust.

The problem with the latest to try, "Sarah's Key," is one of dramatic imbalance. It's another example of past-present juxtaposition resulting in two unequal halves (see also "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan").

Beginning in July 1942, "Sarah's Key" tells the little-known story of French police detaining Jews in deplorable conditions before deporting them to concentration camps. It focuses on the fictional Sarah Starzynski (Melusine Mayance), a girl who hid her brother in a locked closet before she and the rest of the family were taken away, and her resolve to escape and save him.

In current-day Paris, the film follows journalist Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas) as she learns about Sarah while researching a story on the detainment. A connection arises between them through Julia's husband.

This, along with Julia's growing obsession with Sarah and an unexpected pregnancy, build up drama in the present, but her problems seem minor in comparison to a little girl alone in a deadly environment.

To the film's credit, Scott Thomas and Mayance give exceptional performances. And it effectively depicts the Holocaust as a wound in Western European culture that, due to memories of complacency or complicity, no one wants to pick.