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Movie Review: My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper: Climb Aboard the Weepy Express

In My Sister's Keeper, young Anna knows that she was genetically engineered and brought into this world in order to serve as a donor for her ailing sister, Kate. Well, My Sister's Keeper was engineered to make people cry — over and over and over again, for two hours. Anna sues her parents for medical emancipation, and by the end of this movie I wanted to file for emotional emancipation.

Anna (played sweetly by Abigail Breslin) was conceived after her parents, Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian (Jason Patric), learned that their young daughter Kate (the teenage version played by Sofia Vassilieva) had leukemia and their other child, Jesse (Evan Ellingson), was not a perfect match to be a donor for his sister. Throughout her life Anna has been required to give all sorts of things from her body to help keep Kate alive and now, at the age of 11, Anna finds a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) to sue her parents for medical emancipation. The lawsuit comes at a critical time: Kate's kidneys are failing, and without one of Anna's kidneys, Kate will die — soon. The story unfolds in a series of flashbacks that fill in some blanks about the family's journey up until this point. The flashbacks are interspersed with scenes of the present-day situation as Kate's condition worsens and Sara, a former lawyer, prepares to fight her youngest daughter in court. For more on this terribly sad movie,


This drama is, of course, very moving. It centers around a kid with cancer! Of course there's inherent sadness just within that plot, and essentially, nothing more is really needed to make most people feel. But My Sister's Keeper takes this story and milks it for all its worth, stretching out heart-wrenching scene after heart-wrenching scene. I don't fault the movie for being sad, and I don't even think it's that poorly done, but it could have benefited greatly from some strong editing. Despite trying to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time (we hear perspectives from each character — including quite a bit from Kate herself), the movie drags on languorously in many parts, and I just wanted to yell at the screen that we get it. It's sad. We're crying. There's so much more to this story, please move on!

At first, it takes a little while to warm up to these people — particularly so with Diaz's Sara, not because her character is a tough cookie but because Diaz is so shrill at times it's hard to take her seriously. I wondered if this role was too heavy for her to handle; there's just something insubstantial about the way she portrays Sara. It doesn't ruin the movie, but I still wish they'd cast someone else in that role. Sofia Vassilieva's performance as Kate is well done and requires a delicate touch that Vassilieva capably displays — she's sympathetic as a cancer patient, of course, but she also convincingly plays another side of Kate: a giggly, sometimes insecure teenage girl who wants to date boys and look pretty.

I knew going into this that my emotions would be manipulated, and they really do pull out all the stops — including the use of a heartbreaking song every eight minutes or so (like Greg Laswell's slow, haunting version of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"). But even with all the music and all the horrors of cancer, by the end of the film, the sweet and complex bonds between these parents and these siblings are what deliver the gut-punch that forces the tears to start flowing.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Join The Conversation
Raellyourz Raellyourz 7 years
"My Sister's Keeper" is one of my fave books, unfortunately I am not looking forward to seeing it portrayed in a film with certain characters cast the way they are...Cameron Diaz as Sara? What are you freaking thinking, she is a great, lively, at times funny actress... which is not anything like Sara in the novel. And, key portions of the book have been deleted from the on-screen story, not to mention that the ENDING IS CHANGED COMPLETELY! I'm disappointed and not sure if I want to even see the film, maybe I will just reread the novel!
SaRaH-22 SaRaH-22 8 years
I saw this movie on Friday and I have never been so mad at a movie in my life. If I would have known that they were going to change the ending I wouldnt have seen it...SOOOO MAD!! Who does that??
bingbingboom bingbingboom 8 years
I saw it yesterday by myself and cried with the rest of the audiences. I read the book a few months ago with the Buzz Book Club. I agree with Buzz Sugar that the ending change worked for the movie. It's a tough job to tell the story from multiple character's voices as the way the book did, but I thought the film did a good job. And I'm very glad that they cut the Julia-Alex story out as I didn't care so much for it in the book. I would highly recommend reading the book even if you have seen the movie. Have a large box of tissue next to you!
Chloe-X Chloe-X 8 years
I went to see it yesterday and it was really sad! :(
Louie Louie 8 years
I loved this book and will not see the movie because I don't want to risk ruining what I read and have pictured in my mind.
lizlee89 lizlee89 8 years
I am so glad that Buzz said what she did about Cameron Diaz - I've been thinking the same thing since I first heard about the casting. I can't stand her, and as a diehard fan of this book I found her casting very insulting to the author. that character has so many layers; and Cameron is not a good enough actor to portray that. I really don't think a movie should have been made at all, considering how much depth the book itself has; way too much to be captured on screen...
lullavonn lullavonn 8 years
Just came back from the theater as well. Being a Picult religious reader, have to say that the movie is a very well done adaptation and if there is something missing that could had been interesting to see is owed to the limited time not the limitations of the screen writers. I would had enjoyed to see the Julia-Alex relationship being played out. Yet still not convinced about Baldwin portraying Campbell, in my mind it was someone younger better looking. Shame the Dakota sisters canceled the roles, however Sofia and Abigail, played beautifully Anna and Kate. Also, applause for Diaz, she is indeed getting older and these type of roles are adequate now.
cupcakers cupcakers 8 years
just to add-Cameron Diaz's crying scenes, man, it was real and genuine. I can't imagine anyone saying she did bad (just my opinion!) because I think she perfectly captured what a character like hers would go through with her daughter being sick. (btw I found out the ending in the book-whoa!)
cupcakers cupcakers 8 years
I just came back from the film. It was a good movie, I think Cameron was convincing and did a fantastic job. Oh boy everyone was crying in the theater. I haven't read the book, how was the ending different?
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
DCBaxter — Yes, the ending in the movie does differ from the ending in the book. In my personal opinion, I think the way they ended it for the movie is good, and works better for the film than the book's ending would have. I'm not sure how others will feel, though. . . .
mndmay mndmay 8 years
I bawled when I read the book; despite that, I loved it and I do hope that they didn't change the ending. I agree, Buzz, about Cameron Diaz not being appropriate for the role. While I haven't seen it (obviously), I pictured someone like Toni Collette in the role. I thought they were going to ruin it when I discovered that Diaz and the then-cast Fanning sisters were going to play the roles because I thought that it would too "Hollywood" the story.
DCBaxter DCBaxter 8 years
Is it similar to the book? Didn't you report that they changed the ending?
penguins268 penguins268 8 years
A little too sad for me but I was surprised at the mention of Greg Laswell! I just downloaded his album 'Three Flights from Alto Nido' off Amazon for $2. I had never heard of him and it was the best $2 I ever spent! It's amazing.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Initially, I was very excited about this movie. I read the book years ago, when it first came out, and I really enjoyed. Ever since I found out that they changed the ending in the movie, I haven't been as excited to see it. :shrug:
care0531 care0531 8 years
I am reading the book and once I finish I will see the movie. I agree with you ddene5712_2 I hate watching sad movies in the theater! I cry too easy!
nessa17 nessa17 8 years
I really want to watch this movie, it looks great! I think I am seeing it tommorow.
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