movie film review | chris tookey

My Sister's Keeper

© Warner Bros. - all rights reserved
  My Sister's Keeper Review
Tookey's Rating
2 /10
Average Rating
3.80 /10
Sara Fitzgerald - Cameron Diaz , Anna Fitzgerald - Abigail Breslin
Full Cast >

Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Written by: Jeremy Leven, Nick Cassavetes Based on the novel by Jodi Picoult

Released: 2009
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 108

Strong premise turns into cheap schlock.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

Bookmark and Share

Nick Cassavetes directed the hit weepie The Notebook, but comes a horrible cropper trying to repeat the trick. This could have been a touching human interest story exploring a timely medical issue. Instead, it descends into the worst kind of tawdry schmaltz.

The best thing about it is Abigail Breslin (from Little Miss Sunshine), who produces a luminous performance as Anna, a girl who has been genetically engineered to supply spare parts for her elder sister (Sofia Vassilieva, pictured right) who has leukaemia. At 11 years old, Anna decides that enough is enough.

She approaches a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) to gain legal control over her own body, and avoid a threatened kidney transplant.

Her mother (Cameron Diaz, pictured left) believes Anna is being selfish, but it’s hard to know whether she is. We are never given any idea about whether a transplant would save the elder sister’s life, nor why Anna has suddenly made her decision, nor how her lawsuit affects her relationship with her sister.

These glaringly obvious evasions made me suspect early on that all was not as it seemed; and so, eventually, it proves.

Early on, Cassavetes promises a nuanced, even-handed approach to his characters. The first hour would make perfectly acceptable, disease-of-the week television. It is in the final three-quarters of an hour that he descends into schlock.

The central issue is fudged, and turns out – in an unconvincing twist - not to be the real problem.

Ethically, the balance is loaded against the mother. Diaz’s shrill, hysterical performance is not only tiresome, it doesn’t ring true. She utterly fails to convince as a loving mother, still less (when she starts representing herself in court) a hot-shot lawyer. Miscast, she comes across as loathsomely self-centred and bewilderingly unintelligent.

Watching any teenager suffering from cancer should be moving. Here, the poor girl looks like a victim of a brazen attempt to make a fast buck out of human suffering. Mawkish, middle-of-the-road rock tracks – including an appallingly morbid rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - accompany ad-style montages of poor, dying Kate smiling through glycerine tears.

Softer hearts than my own may respond to this kind of “women’s movie”, and at least it’s a corrective to the soulless machismo of Transformers 2 and Terminator Salvation. But with direction this leaden and scripting this ham-fisted, my suspicion is that, on this side of the Atlantic at least, there will be far too many dry eyes in the house.

Key to Symbols