My Sister's Keeper (2009)
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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 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.
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" 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".
(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)
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.
Needless to say, it was breathtaking. I cried, I laughed, I smiled at how normal the family seems. It wasn't a stereotypical straight plot. It seemed longer then it actually was, and that was a good thing. They put a lot of things in the movie, and yet it wasn't choppy or hurried.
To watch this movie was amazing.
just, if your expecting what I was expecting, you won't get it. but you will still watch a great movie.
"My Sister's Keeper" has a potential story with a promising beginning. However, the screenplay entwines flashback of situations of Kate's cancer sometimes in a confused way and has a melodramatic conclusion that could be shorter. The greatest problem is the shallow and unrealistic Hollywoodian approach, reducing the strength of the powerful drama, and I believe that this theme would be better explored by an independent director in a more realistic environment. The teenager Sofia Vassilieva has an awesome performance and Cameron Diaz is also great in the role of a mother that becomes obsessed to save her daughter and forgets her family. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Uma Prova de Amor" ("A Proof of Love")
They RUINED the book. Nothing about this movie was true to the book. It was disjointed and jumbled and made no sense. They took all the best elements of the book and left them out. The girl from Campbell's past? GONE. The judge is now a woman, Jesse doesn't have issues with getting in trouble.
and then the most insulting part? the ending. WTF? how do they take what made the book SO amazing and just change it? That's NOT RIGHT! I wish movies came with money back guarantees because I feel I deserve a refund.
I will say the girl who plays Kate did an amazing job. She's the only saving grace in the whole rotten thing.
Although moving, this wasn't as much of a tear jerker as I thought it would be. Instead, it does focus on that ethical dilemma from a variety of perspectives, primarily raising the question of whether one daughter's life should take precedence over the other's quality of life. Cameron Diaz was fantastic in a role that, as the movie began, I didn't really think would fit her very well. Instead, she was totally convincing as the mother in denial. She can't accept that Kate is dying; she can't accept that Kate is tired of living; she can't accept that Anna is tired of being Kate's only lifeline; she can't accept that her own family is increasingly turning against her views on this. She has two daughters - one who needs to be told that it's OK to die, and one that needs to be told that it's OK to live, and she can't meet the needs of either. We see where the movie is heading almost from the beginning, which is one of the complaints of those who loved the book - it had a surprise, "twist" ending apparently, as opposed to the predictable ending in this one. The problem with "twist" endings, though, is that they can seem artificial and unreal. The movie's ending - while predictable - was also powerfully real, as is the movie as a whole. I was truly surprised by how much of a chord it struck in me. 10/10
The rest of the characters evolve into people so far removed from those we fell in love in Jodi's beautiful novel that they are barely recognizable. Baldwin never quite fulfills the role of the intellectual and tenacious defense-lawyer. The brief 5 minutes of firefighting followed by another even briefer scene in the fire station are the only nods we get to Brian being a firefighter which ultimately has everything to do with Jodi's all-too important connection between Brian and Jesse's crucial reconciliation. But I guess this isn't important since Jesse is really a non-character. He could have been just as easily written out of the script for all his importance in the film (all we see him doing is hanging on street corners).
The ending was such a HUGE disappointment as others have already mentioned that all I'll say on that is this: it made the whole case/ courtroom (and therefore Anna's role) piece of the movie/book null and void. If Kate dies who the heck cares that Anna wins the court case? It was anticlimactic to say the least.
The similarities between the movie and the book that spawned it are so few and far between that I can only describe them this way: Someone heard that Jodi wrote a poignant bestseller about a girl who has APL and her sister who sues her parents for medical emancipation so as not to continue being a donor for her and thought this was a fabulous movie idea. They then went and wrote their own script about it. It's like a brand new piece of Wrigley's chewing gum... you unwrap it, place it in your mouth, chew it up and spit it out. The end product looks nothing like what you started out with.
In all my years of movie viewing this is the WORST book to movie adaptation and I consider myself a painfully difficult movie critic (as do my friends and family). I almost walked out right after Kate died (Anna's monologue was so drippingly sweet it was painful to the ears)but I stayed in deference to my sister who was with me. I've never wanted to get up and Hiss and BOOOO at the end of a film but I did at the end of this one.
A friend of mine said Jodi's book was about medical ethics and I believe that is why the courtroom drama was such an important part of this book.
The directors thought otherwise. This is a clichéd movie about a cancer victim and her family with 10 seconds of courtroom thrown in for good measure. Add in an ending that audiences EXPECT rather than the one Picoult fans fell in love with and all together you are knee deep in doggie doo-doo.
When it was first announced that there would be a film based on the book I had my doubts. I was afraid that it wasn't going to be true to the book. I was right. The film was much different than the book but, surprisingly, that didn't bother me much. The movie was brilliant, moving and beautiful and the acting was remarkable. Abigail Breslin, the girl from "Little Miss Sunshine" was wonderful and I loved her as Anna Fitzerland. There were some really sad scenes, like the one where Katie and Sara are lying on the hospital bed, Katie comforting her mother who breaks down in front of her after seeing the album with memories that she made her.
Of course, I was kind of disappointed to see that the ending was not the same, not even similar, to the book's ending. See, in the book Anna gets into an accident resulting in her death. Her kidney is given to her sick sister who recovers and lives. In the movie Katie dies. I would prefer the book's ending but, still, I loved every bit of the movie.
So, If you've read the book you may not be very happy with this change but I still recommend you to watch it, since it will bring tears to your eyes.
I apologize for any grammatical mistakes. I don't live in an English speaking country.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn't quite meet the expectations of a book- reader.
I don't even pay attention at the fact that not all the key plot lines were shown - that's understandable, not all movies can last 3 hrs like my beloved "Titanic". But the ones that remain are mostly rudely messed up with.
Let's start with the age of the main character. In the book she's 13, in the movie - 11. Not that much of a difference, it might seem. No, there is. The girl is trying to demonstrate and prove that she can make her own decisions about her body and health. With a 13 y.o. girl that looks quite credible. With an 11 y.o. kid that looks quite ridiculous, and sometimes her actions looked stupid, especially since the girl starring in the movie looks very childish. Not to offend the very girl, of course.
Secondly, the character of Jesse. Perhaps, they chose an actor who's too young again. Perhaps, something was wrong with directing. But a young guy with serious psychological problems and yet some life philosophy portrayed in the book turned into a capricious kid. Still, to director's credit, the importance of this character for the plot was underlined in a proper way.
Lastly, the ending. Without the author's agreement, the creators of the movie changed it completely. In the movie Kate dies and Anna thinks of her often after that. In the book, however, Anna and her solicitor Alexander get in a car crash and Anna dies. Her kidney is given to Kate and the latter suddenly recovers completely from her disease. Kate's death also has a point, I mean, the movie does have an idea, and something to think over, but that's something totally different from what the writer was trying to tell, which I consider not really appropriate.
My rating is not higher because I had read the book before watching, but not lower since, if you haven't read the book, you'll most probably love the movie a lot.
The cast is terrific. Cameron Diaz is especially impressive as a nasty mother. If you've only ever seen her as a blonde bimbo before this, you won't know that she had it in her. David Thornton stands out in a small role as a doctor named, with a flatfooted obviousness, "Chance." Alec Baldwin is perfectly cast as a sardonic lawyer. Joan Cusack chews the scenery as if she were in a three-handkerchief weepie from the Golden Age. Jason Patric is convincing as a well meaning fireman dad facing huge life questions.
What utterly stinks, here, is the script. This bad script is no accident. It's the result of smug, arrogant, and shallow writers who assume that audiences are not up to the challenge of watching a real wrestling match with real issues.
There are moments that manage to create a simulacrum, a phony imitation, of real art that with real courage and real artistry addresses real issues. Sara (Cameron Diaz), in moments, reveals how utterly loveless a mother can actually be. Taylor (Thomas Dekker) betrays the sadness of a young man dying of cancer. Dr. Chance (David Thornton) is convincing as a nice guy who is perfectly willing to toy with human life and human fate.
But this is a movie deeply, religiously committed to never rising above a two-digit IQ, a coward's take on the Big Questions, and a shopping mall's imitation of real village inhabited by mannequins-as-humans. Every second of verisimilitude, of fealty to real life as real people really live it, in all its overwhelming beauty and heartbreak, is immediately undercut by a nauseating overlay of saccharine-and-hydrogenated-oil-rich, Twinkie filling. Not a single character is allowed to stray beyond the safety zone of what the filmmakers think their audience can handle – i.e., grade school kumbaya sermonizing from the Pastel Church of Politically Correct Sophistry – before that character is suddenly embraced in a warm, huggy, slow-mo, gauzy lens scene of frolicking on the beach. This is a movie about early death and designer babies grown in test tubes to exploit their bodies in organ harvesting. Could it not have ONE scene that grated, that challenged, that colored outside the lines of a Thomas Kinkade print? There's so much that's phony here I don't know where to start. That a mother and daughter could live peacefully and calmly under the same roof while the mother wanted to cut out the daughter's kidney and the daughter didn't want the mother to? Uh, I don't think so. That, at the climax of the movie, one character breaks down in sobs remembering her own child's death, another character goes into an epileptic seizure while a very cute dog can't stop barking? You know what that dog is saying? "Timmy fell down the well!" Straight from the 1950s Lassie TV series. Can we say, "Laying it on pretty thick"? Oh, come on. That a child can die without once questioning religion, or God, or any belief system at all? Nope, didn't think so.
Again, the cast is above reproach. It's the writers. What makes people willing to watch drek like this and conclude that they've had some kind of profound, artistic experience? Movies like this aren't only bad, they are criminal. We humans, as a species, rely on art to educate us, elevate us, guide us. What movies like this communicate is clear: death at an early age from cancer may interfere with your prom night, but thoughtful artistic expression is the deadliest and most taboo force of all.
By the way, you should DEFINITELY see this over Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Surprised there were 800 people at the screening of that trash and not many people came out to see this great piece of work.
Overall Rating: 8.1 out of 10
I read the book and it was interesting, while some things were different, many things were the same. They edited a lot out of the book, such as the story of Julia and Campbell (that was boring and cliché anyway) but I would have liked to have seen her character. Breslin did a great job playing Anna! I think she is a great actress and perfect for the role. The actress who played Kate was great too; we should see more of her. I heard Dakoda Fanning was considered for the role, but didn't want to shave her hair, whether that's true or not I don't know. Cameron Diaz did a great job! This role was completely different than any I've seen with her; this was the first time I saw her play a mother and she did a great job. She is a talented actress and is usually played in comedies or cartoons; its nice to see her play a serious role. One thing in the book that was different than the movie was Kate died in the movie, (if you didn't read the book don't read this part, its a spoiler for the book) Anna died in the end of a book as the result of a car accident with the lawyer Campbell who drove her home that day. Either way it was sad, but in the movie it was more expected. Many people were angered by the ending of the movie, but I think both were fine endings, either ending could happen. However, the author left the ending of the book for interpretation and there are many different ways to interpret if. In movie they sort of spoon fed it. I would have liked the sisters to live, not just because it would be less sad, but I wanted to know if She would have donated the kidney, neither the book nor the movie gave that opportunity. Another thing different in the movie, which you may feel is not important, but made a difference to me was that Sarah only gave up being a lawyer when her daughter had cancer; in the book she gave up law to raise her family and had not practiced law since Jesse was born. The reason that made a difference to me was because she fought as Kate's lawyer and in the book they mentioned she was rusty and had not practice law in a long time. Even in the movie it had to be at least since Anna was born, because she gave up law to take care of Kate, but they didn't really mention it her not practicing law in a while (I don't think) and it seemed like she really knew what she was doing. Also, Kate mentioned how much her mother gave up for her and how she gave up being a lawyer; perhaps that was why they changed it. At the end of the movie, they mention her going back to practicing law; in the book she didn't; either way is fine, just different. Sarahs sister (Kate's and her siblings aunt), whose name was changed in the movie, played a bigger role, which was interesting; it was more interesting to see another adult other than the parents playing a big role in the whole thing. In the book,although Sarahs sister (named Kelly in the movie) stayed over a lot and helped a lot, she did not move in with them and give up her career for them, which is not bad, just different then the movie. The actress that played Kelly was very talented! She was a beautiful actress; for some reason she looked tiny in the movie, but I looked her up after seeing her and she is on the tall side, but probably because she is so thin she looked tiny. I liked how they changed judge De Salvo to a woman, played very well by Joan Cusack! I don't know why but a woman who lost her daughter seemed to have more in common with Sarah and she understanding of both of them. She is a great actress! I heard a rumor that she was supposed to play Julia, but for some reason I could not picture her playing that role; she is beautiful, but just different than how I pictured Julia. Although Alec badlwen did a great job, his character, was not as likable in the movie and he did not have as much of a relationship with Anna. He seemed to have no sympathy for Sarah or Brian, whereas in the book he seemed more compassionate. All in all, great movie and great actress! Abegail Breslen has really grown since Kid Kiterage and American Girl!