Monday, June 29, 2009

"My Sister's Keeper"

In "My Sister's Keeper," Anna (Abigail Breslin) was conceived as a donor for her sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) who has cancer. By the age of eleven Anna has already gone through several painful medical procedures to save her sister. Now she must endure another surgery in order to give her dying sister her kidney. Anna shocks her parents by hiring a lawyer (Alex Baldwin) to get medical emancipation so she can make her own decisions about her body and live her own life.

"My Sister's Keeper" succeeds as a tear jerker. Despite some script problems including undeveloped characters, contrived plot elements, and a stereotypical terminally wise child, it moved me to tears. It could be because of what I brought to the film as an audience member. I related to the marriage straining under the responsibilities of parenthood. The mother (Cameron Diaz) had given up everything, including her relationship with her husband (Jason Patric), to take care of her sick child. In her single minded pursuit to keep her daughter alive, she has forgotten the importance of living. Though this storyline paid off with an emotionally stirring scene, it would have been more powerful if their marital problems had been set up earlier and we actually saw the father being pushed out of the picture.

In an interesting structural device, each character narrates their point of veiw on how having a family member with cancer affects their lives. You would think that this would give ample opportunity for each characters' storyline to be developed. Unfortunately, some storylines have gaping holes in them.

The male family members are nearly non-existent through much of the film. You could argue that it was the director's (Nick Cassavetes, The Notebook) intent since everything evolves around the sick child's needs while everyone else is neglected. For instance, there are some vague references to the brother (Evan Ellingson) needing help because he is dyslexic, but that story thread is abruptly dropped. In one scene he wanders into a bad section of the city and watches street walkers. Nothing happens. No one even notices that he's gone. Perhaps that's the point. But it may have had more impact if he had gotten into trouble.

Their many sacrifices have weighed on the family, but I believe the spirit of giving has a positive impact on the children. They have grown so much closer from taking care of each other. The film touches on the theme that giving to others is it's own reward and a worthwhile way to live.

If you could use a good cry or a reminder of how good life can be, watch "My Sister's Keeper". How you spend your entertainment dollars tells Hollywood what kind of movies you want. Want more family dramas? Then go see "My Sister's Keeper" while it is still in the first run theaters.

Movie Blessings!
Jana Segal


The Mess Hall Queen said...

Wow! as always, great review...I wasn't big on seeing it until it comes out on DVD, but now I think I will go.
I love your insight, "They have grown so much closer from taking care of each other. The film touches on the theme that giving to others is it's own reward and a worthwhile way to live."
You always see beyond the screen!

Reel Inspiration said...

Thanks for your supportive comment!
It's great to hear from you, Soni.
I hope all is well.

pgreene said...

Good review Jana. Your comment about the males in the film was interesting. I've seen several male family members become enraged when something happens to a family member that they cannot control. I've seen sons snarl at their pitiful mothers who keep repeating the same thing, as if she could help it in the midst of her alzheimers. I wonder if it is a cultural thing where the male feels guilty.

Zee said...

Hi there,
I wanted to let you know that some of the plot holes you saw are filled in the book. The book is pretty much a masterpiece, and the movie only has two hours so I definitely recommend the book if you have time. I know you were just reviewing the movie, and I can agree this doesn't make sense. The brother does take to the streets a lot in the book, and there is a major plot twist about what he is doing when he goes at night. In the book, the author masterfully writes from the perspective of each character.

Jana said...

Hi, Zee,

Thanks for finding RI and for your very insightful comment.

It is very helpful to know your perspective from reading the book. I believe that with some small strokes some of these holes in the script could have been filled. I always wonder, in cases like this, if it was due to a ruthless edit or if the problem was with the screenplay. Sometimes writers and directors are just too close to the material to see it objectively.

But, like I said, the film inspired me to tears in the right places. It is worth seeing for the luminecent performances from of the three female actresses.

Movie blessings!