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Friday, June 26, 2009

My Sister’s Keeper

My Sister’s Keeper


Release Date: June 26th, 2009

Rated 14A for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, sensuality, language, and brief teen drinking.

Running time: 110 minutes

Nick Cassavetes (dir.)

Nick Cassavetes (screenwriter)

Jeremy Leven (screenwriter)

Jodi Picoult (author of original book ‘My Sister’s Keeper)

Aaron Zigman (music)

Cameron Diaz as Sara Fitzgerald

Abigail Breslin as Anna Fitzgerald

Alec Baldwin as Campbell Alexander

Jason Patric as Brian Fitzgerald

Sofia Vassilieva as Kate Fitzgerald

Heather Wahlquist as Aunt Kelly

Joan Cusack as Judge De Salvo

Thomas Dekker as Taylor Ambrose

Evan Ellingson as Jesse Fitzgerald

David Thornton as Dr. Chance

ABIGAIL BRESLIN as Anna and SOFIA VASSILIEVA as Kate in New Line Cinema's drama "My Sister's Keeper," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. The film also stars Cameron Diaz. [Photo by Sidney Baldwin]

Our reviews below:


My Sister’s Keeper Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper is the story of Anna (Abigail Breslin), who was created to be a perfect genetic match for her sister. When her sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), was two, she was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. Since then, Anna has just been spare parts for her sister. Now, at age eleven, she is expected to donate her kidney. So she files for medical emancipation from her parents.

The acting by the cast is not going to win any awards, but it works for what it is. Sofia Vassilieva delivers a fine performance as Kate, but I would not so much praise her acting as much as the work of the make-up artists. Cameron Diaz is alright as the very unlikable mother, but I wish she didn’t always wear those stupid fuzzy boots, which she even has on at the beach. But it is Abigail Breslin who really carries the movie.

The make-up for Kate, as she succumbs to the cancer is impeccable. Thank goodness she is afflicted with more than just “theatrical cancer”. Now her hospital boyfriend, Taylor (Thomas Dekker), who looks a bit too old for Kate, just appears to be pale, with a shaved head and eyebrows. His eyelashes are brought out by eyeliner. He is suffering from a milder form of the “theatrical” type of cancer.

They use a scrapbook filled with memories to tell part of the story. It’s cluttered pages fill the screen more than once. None of these scenes even come close to the emotion felt when Carl reads through the My Adventure Book in the Pixar masterpiece Up.

The fractured narrative of flash-backs and flash-forwards, make for a sometimes confusing experience. The various voiceover narration from the different characters, rarely ever works.

There are too many sappy montages. Most of the time, they don’t work. In one of the most irritating, the characters go into a photo booth and take all sorts of silly pictures. There is also a montage of them blowing bubbles jumping on a trampoline. Then there’s the montage at the beach, set to a pop song. Various uses of slow motion just make them seem even longer.

The film’s issues of moving on and letting go are never dealt with as gracefully and beautifully as in the Japanese film Departures. It is never as emotionally affecting as other recent films like Is Anybody There? or Up. The cancer story line is not done in an original way, like in the Canadian masterpiece One Week. My Sister’s Keeper just boils down to something that could have been much better, but just gets lost in hopes of being a better movie.

I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t go see it, but I wouldn’t say that you have to see it, either. It’s pretty good for what it is, but you can probably wait for the DVD.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper is not a bad film, it was actually better than I had suspected it would be. Based on the book of the same name by Jodi Picoult, the story is as follows:

While most babies come unexpectedly, Anna Fitzgerald, (Abigail Breslin), was engineered in a lab for a purpose - to save her big sister Kate, (Sofia Vassilieva). You see, Kate was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 2. Her older brother Taylor, nor her parents, were donor matches, so Anna was created in a lab to ensure a match. For the last 11 years of Anna’s life, she has been used in a way as spare parts for her sister. Blood donations, bone marrow, etc., and now, they want her to donate a kidney. The thing is, Anna says that she doesn’t want to do it anymore. So, since at 11 the law says that she cannot make her own medical decisions, she hires a lawyer with a 91% success rate, named Campbell Alexander, (Alec Baldwin), in order to challenge the law, and file for medical emancipation.

This is not a happy, fun movie, due of course to it’s sad subject matter. Some parts of the film do seem kind of clichéd, or contrived, and I found the use of slow motion, and other such clichés to become cumbersome after being used almost to excess. Also, the character of Jesse, Kate and Anna’s older brother, was quite underdeveloped. With all this being said though, the acting here is fair, and Aaron Zigman’s score fits well. The makeup near the end of the movie on Sofia Vassilieva is very accurate as well.

If you have read the book, than you might want to see this movie to check it out - although be forewarned that apparently, (I haven’t actually read the book, but asked someone who had), the ending of the book and the film are quite different... Other than that, if you are in the mood for a tearjerker kind of film, I guess this is it.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Nicole

**3/4 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper is a fairly decent and thought provoking tearjerker film. Based on the book by Jodi Picoult, this movie tells the story of one family’s experience with cancer. What began as a “perfect” family, with a boy, Jesse, and a girl, Kate, is suddenly shaken when it is discovered that Kate, then two years old, has leukemia. Kate requires transfusions of blood and bone marrow, but no suitable donors come up. So Kate’s parents, Sara and Brian, decide to create a genetically engineered baby in a test tube. The new baby, Anna, is a perfect match for Kate.

Fast forward 11 years, and Kate still has cancer. This time, Kate is worse than ever. Her kidneys are failing, and who do you think the donor is supposed to be? Anna, obviously. However, Anna doesn't want to be “spare parts” for Kate. Anna has had stuff taken from her body against her will ever since she was a baby. So Anna hires a high profile lawyer, Campbell Alexander, to sue her parents for medical emancipation, much to the dismay of the mother, Sara. Sara has done everything to try to save Kate, but has never really asked her daughters what their wishes are. Their father, who is a firefighter, is more sympathetic, and understands where Anna is coming from. When the court case finally goes down, we find out more as to why Anna is fighting for medical emancipation. The movies ending, while obviously sad, is very realistic, and far more reasonable than the apparent ending of the book (which I have not yet read).

This film does not shy away from showing the horrific aspects of having leukemia. The makeup work done on Sofia Vassilieva (Kate) is very realistic. At some points, however, seeing Kate become physically ill is almost too graphic, but really shows how awful the disease really is. (Sensitive viewers may want to look away at some points.) This is contrasted by a lot of clichéd scenes, as well as flashbacks and flash forwards, which didn’t quite work, and were somewhat confusing.

There are, however, some touching moments in this film. The relationship between Kate and Taylor, another teenage cancer patient, was sweet, (though Thomas Dekker, who plays Taylor, looks too old for the role.) I liked seeing the gentle and caring relationship between Anna and Kate. I also appreciated the fact that, although the family fights, they still stick together, growing stronger in the end.

This movie, although very clichéd, is a decent tearjerker film, that, while no means brilliant, opens discussion on bioethics, and has a good message about family values, reproductive technologies, and end of life care. The acting is decent, and the quiet score by Aaron Zigman sets the tone for the film. A very sad, but realistic story that is worth checking out at the theatre or on DVD. Just remember to bring tissues.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

How would you feel if you realized that you had been genetically bred to provide body parts for a sibling? That’s the question that is addressed in ‘My Sister’s Keeper”, based on the book by Jodi Picoult.

Fourteen year old Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) has had recurring cancer since she was a toddler. Her eleven year old sister Anna (Abigail Breslin), who was genetically bred to be an exact genetic match, is now expected to donate a kidney to save Kate’s life. Anna questions the request and hires lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) to grant her medical emancipation and give her control over her own body.

While a portion of the movie is focused on the court case, more of it is focused on Kate’s cancer and the effects on her and her increasingly dysfunctional family. The subject of Kate’s cancer is dealt with very realistically and often graphically. This is not made out to be a sentimental disease. There are also many tender and touching moments in Kate’s battle. In particular, her relationship with another young cancer patient, Taylor, (Thomas Dekker) is very touching and real. The scenes with Kate and her family at the beach are also heartwarming to watch. Viewers need to be aware that this is a real tearjerker movie. Audible sniffling could be heard throughout the theatre.

Although this is a decent movie overall, the problem is that the subject matter can lend itself to a lot of clichés (slow motion, flashbacks, etc.) that can distract from the story. I feel that’s what happened here. I found the parents, Sara (Cameron Diaz), and Brian (Jason Patric) and older brother, Jessie (Evan Ellingson) not believable enough. Perhaps in the book the characters were developed differently. I did find the ending sad but satisfying though apparently it deviates from the book. Check this one out if the storyline or any of the actors appeal to you. Otherwise wait for the DVD to have a good cry at home.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper, based on the novel by Jodi Picoult, has a totally different ending from the book. Though we didn’t read it, from what we have heard the film’s outcome seems more satisfying and meaningful than the book’s.

Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) has had leukemia most of her life, her kidneys have shut down, and she is now close to death from complications of dialysis. Her younger sister Anna is a clone conceived in vitro to provide “spare parts” which have already included invasive procedures such as bone marrow donations, and would now require a kidney transplant. Kate is prepared to die and will not resent Anna if she refuses. Their mother Sara (Cameron Diaz), who quit her job as a lawyer to care for Kate full time, is driven to do everything she can to keep Kate alive. Her husband Brian (Jason Patric) reluctantly agreed to the cloning and is now trying to see both sides. When Anna hires the celebrity lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) to claim the right to refuse her kidney, her mother is determined to fight her in court on the grounds that at age 11 Anna has no rights over her own body. Joan Cusack turns in a very sympathetic performance as the judge. Kate and Anna also have an older brother Jesse (Evan Ellingson), whose larger role in the book has been reduced to little more than wandering the streets at night which is just a distraction. Kate has a boyfriend Taylor (Thomas Dekker) who also has cancer. David Thornton is also good as the pragmatic family doctor. The camera work by Caleb Deschanel is good, and the rest of his family (except Zooey) have bit parts.

Though we found it overly sentimental and corny at times, My Sister’s Keeper is not a bad movie. It has a good cast, and deals fairly with the issues involved.


Consensus: While it is clichéd at times, the acting is decent, and overall My Sister’s Keeper is not a bad film. Just keep in mind that if you don’t see it now, it won’t lose that much on DVD, due to the kind of film it is. **1/2 (Out of 4)

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