Whitney reviews "My Sister's Keeper"

by Eric Melin on June 26, 2009

in Print Reviews

Whitney Mathews has co-hosted our video reviews several times with me and she also blogs at her namesake website www.whitneymathews.com. She saw this flick while I was at “Transformers: Revenge of theFallen,” and we’re happy to reprint it here. Here’s Whitney:

My Sister’s Keeper is the latest project from Nick Cassavetes (Alpha Dog, The Notebook) and stars Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vassilieva, Jason Patric, Evan Ellingson, and Cameron Diaz.

Adapted from Jodi Picoult’s popular novel, the story centers around 11-year-old Anna Fitzgerald and her older sister Kate. Kate has a rare form of Leukemia, and Anna is a test-tube baby genetically engineered by her parents and doctors to save Kate’s life. Since birth, Anna has donated blood, stem cells, bone marrow, etc. to keep Kate alive. But, she doesn’t want to do it anymore, so she sues her parents for the rights to her own body (this is known as medical emancipation).

First, don’t go see this movie unless you want to cry for two solid hours. I mean waterworks the entire time. I think I even saw the uptight security guard at the critics’ screening with a tear in his eye. However, you will laugh between emotional breakdowns.

The easy way to go with this movie is to say it’s about a fractured family, but it’s deeper than that. It’s about the sacrifices the family has made that lead them to this crossroads. Sara Fitzgerald (Cameron Diaz) quit her job as a lawyer to take care of ailing Kate. Son Jesse (Evan Ellingson) faded into the background while Kate’s well being took priority. Father Brian (Jason Patric) became a sole provider and peacemaker. Anna gave up her physical health.

Abigail Breslin shines, as usual. Her ability to play young girls in such a modern way always blows me away. I pray she doesn’t start partying and doing cocaine, because if she keeps her head on straight, we’ll see great things from her in the future.

You could call this Sofia Vassilieva’s breakout movie role. The transformation she went through as Kate (physically and emotionally) showed her versatility. A scene that amazed me is her monologue about accepting her inevitable death. Waterworks.

Finally, two snaps in a Z formation for Cameron Diaz. This is not a glamorous movie. Diaz is not the usual perfect, perky 20-something we’re used to seeing. She’s a worn out, desperate, and determined mother. Wearing very little makeup, bulky sweaters, jeans and a disheveled ponytail, the former supermodel is hidden. She’s no Meryl Streep, but this could be the performance of her career.

Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack add more emotional bulk to the story as Anna’s lawyer and the judge in her case. Thinking about Joan Cusack always makes me smile. She’ll make you smile in this movie, too.

For those who’ve read the book…the ending is NOT the same. I was waiting to see the audience’s reaction as the story wound down, and I got taken. If you’ve read the book, you’ll be disappointed in the way it ends. If you haven’t, you’ll cry your eyes out for two hours and leave thinking you saw a pretty decent flick.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aneesa Siddique June 26, 2009 at 6:30 pm

‘My Sister’s Keeper’, in my personal opinion, is a film about family, guilt, fear, but ultimately – love. Corny i know. But this film takes an initial strong and very focused snapshot of a character’s flaws, vulnerability, or fragile state – and zooms straight into this and delves so deep, that it becomes hard to watch, as though you shouldn’t be there.

The most delicate and intimate moments are captivated in such a, ‘beautiful’ is the only word that springs to mind, and unbiased way, that you find your shoulders relaxing after a first few initial shocks, your senses that little bit more calmed, and you let your own inhibitions and insecurities go, and instead allow yourself to be so totally submerged into numerous character’s stories and viewpoints so much, the film is over before you know it. The acting is nothing short of superb, on all parts. To capture such raw emotion on their faces alone speaks so much more volume than a lot of what they say. Not wanting to give anything away, but just look at the judge’s face when she’s asked a very personal question near the beginning of the move.

Ultimately, but yet again rather cornily, the most important message that this film delivers in such a…pure way, is to enjoy every day that you’re blessed with. Whether it be watching your children sleeping, or a leaf falling from a tree in the Autumn.

Reply

2 Aneesa Siddique June 26, 2009 at 6:30 pm

‘My Sister’s Keeper’, in my personal opinion, is a film about family, guilt, fear, but ultimately – love. Corny i know. But this film takes an initial strong and very focused snapshot of a character’s flaws, vulnerability, or fragile state – and zooms straight into this and delves so deep, that it becomes hard to watch, as though you shouldn’t be there.

The most delicate and intimate moments are captivated in such a, ‘beautiful’ is the only word that springs to mind, and unbiased way, that you find your shoulders relaxing after a first few initial shocks, your senses that little bit more calmed, and you let your own inhibitions and insecurities go, and instead allow yourself to be so totally submerged into numerous character’s stories and viewpoints so much, the film is over before you know it. The acting is nothing short of superb, on all parts. To capture such raw emotion on their faces alone speaks so much more volume than a lot of what they say. Not wanting to give anything away, but just look at the judge’s face when she’s asked a very personal question near the beginning of the move.

Ultimately, but yet again rather cornily, the most important message that this film delivers in such a…pure way, is to enjoy every day that you’re blessed with. Whether it be watching your children sleeping, or a leaf falling from a tree in the Autumn.

Reply

3 Gail June 27, 2009 at 7:22 am

I think you’ve glossed over the fact that the new ending COMPLETELY changes the story. Not a little variance… not a slight adaptation. It COMPLETELY changes the meaning of the story. WHY?????????
Certainly drives home “Don’t ever judge a book by it’s movie”

Reply

4 Gail June 27, 2009 at 7:22 am

I think you’ve glossed over the fact that the new ending COMPLETELY changes the story. Not a little variance… not a slight adaptation. It COMPLETELY changes the meaning of the story. WHY?????????
Certainly drives home “Don’t ever judge a book by it’s movie”

Reply

5 RCM June 27, 2009 at 6:11 pm

My God, with all respect to your opinion, I didn’t get emotional for one moment during this dud. This is to the fact that (much like its melodramatically written counterpart) it’s so contrived and manipulative that it gave me a migraine (excuse the hypocritical hyperbole). Still, I think this is Hollywood sentimentality at its worst.

Reply

6 RCM June 27, 2009 at 6:11 pm

My God, with all respect to your opinion, I didn’t get emotional for one moment during this dud. This is to the fact that (much like its melodramatically written counterpart) it’s so contrived and manipulative that it gave me a migraine (excuse the hypocritical hyperbole). Still, I think this is Hollywood sentimentality at its worst.

Reply

7 Aneesa Siddique June 27, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Haha, well as you said, we are all very much entitled to our own opinion. Although i stick firmly to mine, i can understand why someone would see it that way.

Reply

8 Aneesa Siddique June 27, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Haha, well as you said, we are all very much entitled to our own opinion. Although i stick firmly to mine, i can understand why someone would see it that way.

Reply

9 Rachelle June 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I have not seen this movie, but when I see previews for movies like this all I think of is, “the human female prefers stories about one person dying slowly. The human male prefers stories about many people dying quickly.”- Mating Habits of The Earthbound Human.

Reply

10 Rachelle June 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I have not seen this movie, but when I see previews for movies like this all I think of is, “the human female prefers stories about one person dying slowly. The human male prefers stories about many people dying quickly.”- Mating Habits of The Earthbound Human.

Reply

11 Whitney June 29, 2009 at 9:10 am

@Gail – I agree that the ending was completely different than the book, however, Jodi Picoult fans are quite passionate… and had I given any information that could’ve contained a spoiler alert (for either readers or non-readers) it would’ve discouraged movie goers from seeing the flick and forming their own opinion about the ending.

@RCM – Other than the ending, the story is fairly true to the book. If you think the plot was manipulative, I wouldn’t suggest seeing any other movies adapted from Jodi Picoult books… they are all like extended episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Reply

12 Whitney June 29, 2009 at 9:10 am

@Gail – I agree that the ending was completely different than the book, however, Jodi Picoult fans are quite passionate… and had I given any information that could’ve contained a spoiler alert (for either readers or non-readers) it would’ve discouraged movie goers from seeing the flick and forming their own opinion about the ending.

@RCM – Other than the ending, the story is fairly true to the book. If you think the plot was manipulative, I wouldn’t suggest seeing any other movies adapted from Jodi Picoult books… they are all like extended episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Reply

13 Kenny July 1, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I just saw the movie not too long ago. I was totally taken in by it. It certainly does it’s job very well. Yes, the ending is very different from the book, but that REALLY is besides the point. I think the different ending furthers the movie’s intentions.

The movie is definitely very intense and I could see most men being blown away by how serious the movie is (if they do have certain presumptions about the film). Through all the waterworks and drama the film succeeds in every aspect. I think everyone should appreciate a film that candidly wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve.

Reply

14 Kenny July 1, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I just saw the movie not too long ago. I was totally taken in by it. It certainly does it’s job very well. Yes, the ending is very different from the book, but that REALLY is besides the point. I think the different ending furthers the movie’s intentions.

The movie is definitely very intense and I could see most men being blown away by how serious the movie is (if they do have certain presumptions about the film). Through all the waterworks and drama the film succeeds in every aspect. I think everyone should appreciate a film that candidly wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve.

Reply

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