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Nick Cassavetes is almost like a walking advertisement for Kleenex at
this point. After such shameless melodramtic weepers like "John Q" and
"The Notebook", I wasn't so keen on seeing "My Sisters Keeper", based
on the book by Jodi Picoult. Yet, every once in a while, a chick flick
comes along that touches the chick in every man.
Cameron Diaz plays Sara Fitgerald, who along with her husband Brian (Jason Patric), makes the decision of genetically engineering a child who will be a direct match to their leukemia-stricken 2-year-old daughter Kate. Abigail Breslin plays the engineered child at age 11. Her name is Anna, who since the age of 5, has had blood taken from her and been put thru medical procedures to help keep Kate alive. Anna loves Kate, played as a teenager by Sofia Vassileva, but when her parents want to give Kate one of Anna's kidneys, Anna finally says enough. Sure that no one is looking out for her interests, Anna hires a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) and sues for the right to her own body. Sara, a woman who has made caring for Kate her full-time job, is upset while Brian understands. Meanwhile, Kate feels guilty that her disease is tearing the family apart.
Cassavetes and co-screenwriter Nicholas Leven are dealing with a straight-up tear-jerker here but it's astonishingly free of heavyhandedness and it cuts deep with probing questions and real emotion. These are characters with feelings and concerns, torn between such complicated issues as saving a daughter by experimenting with another, sacrificing your own body even though you know it will diminish quality of life, and dealing with how a disease can burden a family. The movie uses flashbacks (such as Kate being diagnosed as a young child, her parents being given the choice of invitro, and a very young Anna disturbingly forced into operations) and forwards (Kate lying in a hospital bed, looking at a scrapbook of her family) that add dimension. As do the switching of narrators, each character getting a chance to offer their points of view and feelings about how the diagnosis, and everything after it, has effected them.
Unfortunately it's also going in a lot of different directions, and add in a dyslexic and lost-in-the-shuffle brother (Evan Ellingson), and it's sometimes hard for Cassavete's to keep track of all of them. The second act, in particular, has very little to do with the Sara-Anna conflict and the more light-hearted scenes, such as the family frolicking happily on a beach together, seem odd because you feel like there is some contentiousness between Sara and Anna that really doesn't come out til the ending courtroom scene.
However these are small problems rendered almost excusable by powerful performances. Abigail Breslin has surpassed Dakota Fanning in all-out maturity, juggling her characters fears for her own well being with the remorse of not being strong enough for her sister. And Diaz is strong-willed but obsessive, perfect as a one-track minded mother so intent on trying to keep one daughter alive that she's not even thinking about anything else. Jason Patric is the open and understanding father and Alec Baldwin is good comic relief, playing a lawyer so cocky, he sued God. And Sofia Vassileva is nothing short of powerhouse, her heartbreaking performance rising above all the cancer make-up and bloody vomitting and nosebleeds to find Kate's burdensome guilt and brave soul. And only stone-hearts won't share in her joy as she gets dressed up and goes to prom with another terminally ill boy (Thomas Dekker).
I'm not saying this movie isn't a cheap excuse to make you cry, but as far as cheap excuses go, this one is richly made. "My Sister's Keeper" is as surprising and heartfelt a piece of work as I've seen all year long, and the acting is about as good as it comes. With this and his previous, "Alpha Dog", Cassavete's signals himself as a real filmmaker as he rarely ever hits a false note. In a year filled with movies that I've seen fail at finding the humanity in their stories, this one is a keeper.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I entered the theater for the test screening, I thought I was
about to see the world's biggest chick flick. From the first few
moments the film rolled, I was entranced. My Sister's Keeper is one of
the greatest films I have ever seen. It is poignant and powerful.
Cameron Diaz will no longer be considered for romantic comedies. She is
now on par with any great actress of any era. I have found a new
respect for her talent.
Sofia Vassilieva shall be nominated for best actress across the board. The SAGs, Golden Globes, the Academy . . . and she deserves to win. Her portrayal is magnificent.
Each individual acting performance throughout the film is superb.
(Synopsis) Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian Fitzgerald (Jason Patric) have
just been informed that their young daughter Kate (Sofia Vassilieva)
has leukemia, and that she only has a few years to live. The doctor
suggests to the parents that they try an unorthodox medical procedure
of producing another child in a test-tube that would be a perfect match
as a donor for Kate. Sara will try anything to save Kate, and they have
a new baby Anna (Abigail Breslin) to be used as a donor for Kate. The
first thing they use is blood from the umbilical cord for Kate. As
years go on, the doctors must take bone marrow from Anna to give to
Kate. At age 11, the next thing Anna must give to her sister is a
kidney. Anna has had enough of all of these medical procedures, and she
decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation and the right to
decide how her body will be used. The whole family is being torn apart
by Anna's decision because everyone knows what will happen to Kate if
she doesn't get a new kidney.
(My Comment) Everyone knows from the movie trailer that the story is about a young girl who has cancer. You would think that it would be a depressing movie, but you would be wrong. It is a story of some of the choices we make in life. Having a test-tube baby as body parts for another child was a choice made by the parents. Anna wanting to stop giving her body to her sister was a choice. As with all choices, there are consequences. Kate will die without a new kidney. There are many very hard choices in life and in death that we must make, and this is a good movie to show you the way. Diaz as the pragmatic lawyer who was fighting to the very end for her daughter lost focus on life, and the rest of her family. I believe that this is Diaz's best part and performance as an actress. Sofia Vassilieva played Kate, who was in pain for most of her life. Sofia played Kate so well that you could see the helplessness in her eyes as she fights for her life. Anna was also part of this pain, and Abigail Breslin played this part as a professional. Actually, the whole cast was outstanding throughout the film. I loved the collaged scrapbook with voice-over and flashbacks that Kate made to give to her mother. This is a good movie to see with your loved ones. (New Line Cinema, Run Time 1:49, Rated PG-13) (10/10)
I'm currently in the middle of a battle in witch my aunt just finished
fighting and beating cancer for the third time but I'm not here to
discuss that... I'm here to explain how this movie is compelling,
realistic, and above all moving.
This movie shows the struggles and sacrifices many families come across during battles involving not only cancer but also all diseases. It shows the drama, love, fighting, and encouragement that all people face in battles but it also shows that most of the time it isn't happy or encouraging to go on fighting but instead a painful road to ride on.
This movie helped me rekindle a little faith I lost over the last few years, and to prove that this movie is for everyone, I'm an 18 year old male Canadian Solder so if anyone says guys can't watch this movie their wrong because this movie speaks to everyone.
Trust me... This movie is a story of Heroes, and I'll never forget it.
Although the film differs from the book, it is still amazing. The acting was believable and you could really see the heartbreak of the family. But, there were also some funny moments, making the movie slightly uplifting. I am a huge fan of the book, and if i had been expecting to see on the screen exactly what is in the book i would have been disappointed. However, the film has earnt the 10 stars respectively and should, in my opinion, receive an Oscar. I can tell already that the actress who plays Kate will go far in the film industry and i feel that Cameron Diaz has done herself proud, discarding her comedy label. Overall, a brilliant film with a strong message.
I have to disagree with the bad reviews that this movie is getting. Unlike "Twilight" which left important and essential parts from the book, My sisters keeper included the most important and the most memorable from the book. I am a fan of Jodi Picoult, don't get me wrong, and I really didn't mind the ending. Sometimes endings need to be changed for the benefit of the movie, and I believe this time it was a good call. I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult. I really loved the book, but I think the movie made was so much better. The acting displayed in this movie was exceptional, they replaced the characters I had created in my mind while reading the book. The emotion displayed really hit me hard, and I cried from the beginning until the end. There are worries that Alec Baldwin ruined the movie, in my opinion he did a great job. So stop being bitter, and go see it people!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you have seen the trailer, you know what you are in for. Kate has
leukemia and is dying from a very early age, only prolonged due to the
chemotherapy and her little sister. This sibling, Anna, was a test-tube
baby, devised as a curea literal spare parts factory. The family's
mother gave up her law practice to stay home and be there for her
daughter while the father works as a firefighter and does what he can
to bring money in. As Brian Fitzgerald says, being the parent of a sick
child is a full-time job. Sara's main focus is in saving her daughter,
no matter what, even sometimes to the detriment of her other children.
Brother Jesse is neglected in his schooling and Anna is looked upon to
endure excruciatingly painful procedures, at risk to her own wellbeing,
in the hopes they help Kate. As the day of reckoning looms closer, Anna
finds a lawyer and decides that she is finished being a lab ratshe
wants to live her own life without worrying. The Fitzgerald family was
already hanging by a thread and this action is the last straw,
threatening to break them apart forever.
Whereas the story itself is somewhat obvious, (why is it that Anna decides now to stand up for her rights?), it is with everything else that surprises. Number one on that list is Cameron Diaz. I am a self-proclaimed non-fan of this A-list actress for a number of reasons. I believe she has gotten by on her looks, which confuses me to no end, and, of late, has been looking way too old to play the roles she has, namely the bubbly blonde airhead. Here, however, she is a mother that cannot accept the fact that her daughter is dying, a mother that lets the pragmatic lawyer come to the surface, micromanaging in a utilitarian way, seeing that her dying child needs help and that pain for her other daughter is justified. The grief, the tiredness, the dedication, and the hidden love behind a stiff façade of mechanics rather than heart all show on her face. Probably her best performance ever, Diaz is playing someone her own age and shows that she can act if given the chance. I thought she did well in In Her Shoes, and she builds on that success here. I hope she sticks with it because this is a Cameron Diaz I could watch.
Nick Cassavetes, director and co-writer of the film, is the second surprise. Son of prolific auteur John Cassavetes, I used to laugh at his early work. I mean John Q is far from a masterpiece and then there is the infamous The Notebook, the film lingering with the potential of being forced to watch on request by every man's girlfriend. But 2006 brought the solid Alpha Dog and, coupled with My Sister's Keeper, maybe that Nicholas Sparks yarn no longer appears as scary as it once did. Cassavetes shows a nice touch in tempering the emotionally draining with subtle comic relief. You get inside of each character, learning what they think during their moment of voice-over and flashback. I loved the collaged scrapbook as well. What a powerful little prop that expressed so much of the past as well as so much hope for the future.
The acting is stellar throughout, including some stalwarts like Jason Patric as father Brian and Alec Baldwin in a rare serious role as lawyer Campbell Alexander. Even Joan Cusack brings some emotional weight in a role as the lawsuit's judge, her life mirroring that of Diaz's Sara. Evan Ellingson is also very effective as Jesse, the keeper of Anna's secret and silent presence of strength for the family, watching everything fall apart, trying his best to stay sane and hope it all works out. And you can't say enough about young Abigail Breslin, my vote for best child actor around. Dakota Fanning has nothing on this one as Breslin acts with the poise of an adult while still being a child rather than a twenty-year-old in a twelve-year-old body.
The real shining star, however, is Sofia Vassilieva as Kate. This is a powerful performance that resonates every single second. Combining the angst of an adolescent with the pride and vanity of a young girl who has lost her hair and a body slowly shutting down, this young lady captures the pain and heartbreak perfectly. Oftentimes too, that heartbreak is not for her mortality, but instead for what her condition is doing to those she loves. You will see the helplessness in her eyes as she watches the tears, anger, and frustration of those trying to fight for her life. But, through flashbacks, we also catch glimpses of the moments in her life that helped her feel like a normal kid. Thomas Dekkar's Taylor is a big part of this, but her family is as well. Those moments in the photo booth or on a trampoline amongst hundreds of bubbles are the ones that linger in your memory. They are the moments of innocence, of childhood that we hope all our children experience. My Sister's Keeper succeeds in showing us not to take life for granted because it can be taken away without notice. Kate Fitzgerald knows this fact and she just hopes to be able to convey it to her family so that, when she is gone, they will be able to live on.
In "My Sister's Keeper" amazing Thomas Dekker as Taylor gently holds a
bedpan as momentarily fragile Sofia Vassilleva's chemo weakened Kate
vomits. Taylor says, "That could be me tomorrow." He unwraps a stick of
gum, and gives it to Kate. Then he unwraps a second as well, and gives
it to her. I was in tears. Director and Writer Nick Cassavetes's scene
is sweet, and understated in its humanity. Not all of Cassavetes
(director of "The Notebook") and Writer Jeremy Leven's "My Sister's
Keeper" is as gentle. Their "My Sister's Keeper", based on the
bestselling novel by Jodi Picoult, is a heart wrenching tear jerker
that will both stab and touch your heart. It may be one of the best
movies of the year. Alec Baldwin is amazing, reminding us what a
powerful actor he can be. Sofia Vassilleva is astounding. Thomas Dekker
is awesome. Cameron Diaz gives perhaps her best performance, ever.
In "My Sister's Keeper" 11 year-old Anna Fitzgerald (spirited Abigail Breslin) is expected to donate her kidney to her leukemia stricken older sister Kate (Vassilleva), who is in renal failure. However, as it turns out Anna was specifically sired to provide body parts for Kate, be it bone marrow, platelets, and now kidney. Weary of the overwhelming responsibility for an 11 year-old, Anna hires famous attorney Campbell Alexander to file for emancipation from her parents. Her mom is Sara (Cameron Diaz), a former attorney who retired to care for Kate. She swears to her husband Brian (quietly strong Jason Patric), "I'm not going to let her (Kate) die!"
Sara slaps Anna, when she receives the court summons. Enraged Sara confronts Alexander (Baldwin) in his office, confessing that he is good and almost had her believing that he cared about Anna. In utter solace Alexander admits, "Funny? I was about to say the same thing to you." Baldwin is so powerful. His Alexander illuminates the heartbreaking question: We know that Sara would die for Kate, but does she also love Anna, the daughter they had entirely to save her sister? Abigail Breslin is stellar in both her heartbreak and joy. Cassavetes paints a wonderful scene as fireman Brian watches Anna spend dinner with the other firemen at his station. It is the only time she really gets to be an 11 year-old girl, and not her sister's keeper. Brian says to Sara, "What if she doesn't want to do it?" For Sara that is not an answer. Here Diaz is painfully human as a mother outraged by the unfairness of life. She will not let go, even if costs her the love of one daughter.
To that end Cassavetes has the electrifying Joan Cusack as Judge De Salvo, who hears Anna's case. Turns out this is her first case since suffering a nervous breakdown following the death of her 13 year-old daughter in a hit-and-run accident. In her meeting in chambers with Anna, Anna asks De Salvo, "What did it feel like when she died?" Cusack is shockingly and powerfully silent for a minute as a tear runs down her cheek. Anna apologizes for asking. Cusack says, "Death is death." That is counterpoint to Sara. Finally, Sara's sister Kelly (beautiful and strong Heather Wahlquist) implores Sara, "You gotta let go "
There is a surprise in "My Sister's Keeper", though in retrospect it makes a lot of sense. In the dramatic court scene brother Jesse (surprisingly strong Evan Ellingson) screams to Anna, "Tell them the truth!" But it is the quiet moments that moved, and had me in tears. Suffering Kate confesses to Anna, "I'm sorry I let them hurt you I was supposed to protect you." Vassilleva as Kate is amazing in scene with Diaz, as she tells her Mom, "It's okay." Life goes on. Death is death. And you gotta let go. Nick Cassavetes's "My Sister's Keeper" is beautiful and moving in its simplicity as the story celebrates life, family, and power of love. See "My Sister's Keeper".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you've read My Sister's Keeper, you'll be disappointed. Was the acting good? In some cases great! Kate's character will probably get an academy nomination if not an award. Everyone did a great job as far as performances are concerned. HOWEVER,Hollywood made some big mistakes here that some of us won't forgive them for. For the sake of time, which is money, I understand clipping portions of the story that neither make or break it. Taking away the attorney's (Campbell Alexander) ex-girlfriend was understandable (but sad), but downplaying Jesse's arsonist revenge against mom and dad, which highlights how angry he is at being deserted in sissy's favor, is just plain wrong. There was too much time wasted on extended family involvement and not enough given to some of the other characters, including dad. We get the gist he's a fireman, but his role in the book was much more important than that. And as to the ending? HOW DARE THEY? The most important message in Jodi Picoult's story is how ironic/tragic it was that Sara worked so hard ruining Anna's life to save Kate. She could have loved Anna to nth degree while helping Kate but wastes so much of their lives, hoping for something that appears to be impossible. Then, when she begins to see the light and time for goodbyes have come, Anna "dies" in the auto accident and becomes a kidney donor for Kate after all--allowing her to live after all--and removing Sarah's opportunity to love Anna forever. Was it painful? Yeah! Was it a warning to all human beings who need to remember to love while you can and not take things for granted. Yeah! Did this movie deliver? No. Not for me. Was it a good movie for itself? Sure. Enjoy it. As for me (and Jodi Picoult), I'm just disappointed. Had they left the story intact and kept the "messages", both the obvious and the more subtle intact, I think this could have been an academy award movie. As it is, I think it will just go down as good.
This movie is amazing, heart worming, sad, fantastic. I read the book, yes there is some changes done, but is all the movies turned into books just like the book? Are they really going to do every single thing? No. Yes the ending isn't the same as the book, but the ending was still sad. If you see this movie and don't cry, than you don't have a heart. The acting was fantastic. The best I have ever seen. I cried. Yes I'm a 16 year old teenage boy. I cried, even my dad, a 48 year old cried. It's girlie movie, But a damn good one at that. It's the must see of the year. Of course it did poorly at the box office cause they decide to bring a movie more directed to being sad out at the same time as transformers2 (which was stupid). But really you need to go see the movie. and bring something to dry your eyes!
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