MY SISTER’S KEEPER
** (out of 5)
June 26, 2009
Abigail Breslin as ANNA FITZGERALD
Sofia Vassilieva as KATE FITZGERALD
Cameron Diaz as SARAH FITZGERALD
Alec Baldwin as CAMPBELL ALEXANDER
Joan Cusack as JUDGE DE SALVO
Jason Patric as BRIAN FITZGERALD
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Let me start off this somewhat negative review of “My Sister’s Keeper” by confessing that I am a cynical S.O.B. I generally don’t give into the overly weepy tear-jerkers… that is, unless a dog is involved like last year’s “Marley & Me.”
“My Sister’s Keeper” is directed by Nick Cassavetes, the man responsible for making what some consider to be the best romance in years, “The Notebook.” Of course, being a cynical S.O.B., I had a similar reaction to that film: Meh.
Based on a novel, “My Sister’s Keeper” tells the story of Anne Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin). This girl was genetically engineered by her parents to become a donor for her older sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), who is suffering from leukemia. When Kate takes a turn for the worst and endures renal failure, mother Sarah (Cameron Diaz) expects Anne to donate a kidney. Anne then hires a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) to help her sue for medical emancipation.
There are elements to this film that are very well done. Like “The Notebook,” “My Sister’s Keeper” has beautiful cinematography, although it does revel in its own beauty a little too much at times. The acting is also quite good, giving Cameron Diaz a relatively rare chance to shine in a dramatic role. Abigail Breslin is decent, although her acting has softened a bit over the years because it seems directors don’t pull the performance out of her as they could.
The real scene stealer is Sofia Vassilieva as Kate. Cassavetes milks her pity scenes a little too much, but the actress manages to give a realistic performance as a teenage girl dealing with all the normal challenges like boys and image issues, while juggling the awful plight of having cancer.
However, no amount of gorgeous cinematography or great acting can make up for the fact that I just couldn’t get past the premise. Call me crazy or overly conservative, but I find it completely reprehensible to have another child simply to use as an organ and tissue farm for another kid. I understand as a parent the innate urge to save your child, but not to the detriment of another.
The character of Sarah is a truly horrible person, forcing her daughter to undergo complex, painful and sometimes dangerous medical procedures, at as young of an age as five. I have three children of my own, and I can’t imagine the pain and emotional suffering I’d feel if one of them had a terminal illness. However, I don’t think I could ever force, coerce or guilt my other children into mutilating their own bodies to save him.
In this sense, the character of Sarah is just too zealous about harvesting Anne’s body. She’s presented as a mother who will do anything for her daughter, but she becomes monstrous in the film. I just found no sympathy for her, and any shred of feeling I had for her character evaporated by the final act.
Yes, this is a tearjerker of a movie. Yes, this pulls on the heart-strings, often a little bit too deliberately. Yes, you’ll love this if you enjoy films about the triumph of the human spirit. But of a cynical S.O.B. like myself, it really turned my stomach.