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In my opinion it can be harder to review a movie than it is to review a book. A book is new a fresh and while it does have many more layers than it is possible for a movie to have you aren't comparing it to anything. With a movie a key component is how faithfully it represented the book. So I am forced to choose between pretending I'm an independent observer who hasn't read the book or comparing it to the movie. This movie could be a four in my opinion if it was separated and not compared to the book but being compared to the book it is brought down to about a three. Before I get into why I will give a brief summary of the book.
Sara and Brian have already had two children and are living happily as a family when their youngest child, Kate, is diagonosed with a rare form of leukemia. Jesse, their oldest child, is not a donor for Kate and finding a unrelated donor carries more risk for Kate. Following a doctor's off the record opinion to consider having a genetically modified baby to be a perfect match for Kate, Sara and Brian have a another baby: Anna. Anna has been donating things for Kate since birth and after being asked to donate a kidney for her sister she has had enough. Anna hires her lawyer for medical emancipation from her parents because she believes that her parents wish for Kate to live causes them to overlook the harms these injections and operations may have on Anna who does not benefit from them. The stories follows a family struggle in trying to do what is best for all of their children.
I believe that a book is a true story and a movie is an adaption of the book and should follow the book's story closely. Of course the movie's producers can cut lots of things out in the interest of time they still should carry the main message of the book. I believe this movie does convey this successfully but not to the same extent as the book. The movie shows the families struggles with Anna and Kate well but it completely ignores their other son, Jesse. Not only is Jesse's character completely changed he is barely included in the movie. The book is told from seven point of views and Jesse's is one of these point of views and the movie does not show his significance. His character shows that there are struggles outside Kate's illness and Anna's wish to no longer be a donor for her. Jesse is also an arsonist and his need to destroy with fire represents one of the ways in which people deal with not being able to control what's happening in Jesse's case not being a donor match for Kate.
The movie also completely eliminates Julia from the movie. Julia was Anna's guardian ad litem, a past girlfriend of Anna's lawyer, Campbell Alexander, and a current love interest for him. Her decision about whether Anna is responsible or not for her own medical decisions is very important to the case. More importantly Campbell leaving her because he didn't want to burden her with him being epileptic and then her telling him he shouldn't have done that mirrors the main storyline of Sara trying to do what is best for Kate against her own wishes. Julia's character highlights the idea of someone thinking they know what is best for you.
The last thing I have to comment on is the ending. To avoid spoilers I won't tell you the book or the movie ending but comment on them without revealing too much. The movie had a completely different ending from the book. Each ending carried a different message. I believe the movie should have sticked to the book ending since the author chose the ending for a specific reason and changing the ending changes the author's message. The book's ending shocks the reader and brings the very true idea that life is unexpected and that anything can happen. While the movie's ending is the expected ending and gives the message that nothing you can do will prevent from what you don't want happening to happen, that no matter how much you hope and dream it will still happen. Aside from the fact that the movie strayed from the book the ending is disappointing. It is in a sense realistic, which is what the movie is supposed to be, but on the other hand it is boring. The ending causes you to sigh and say yeah of course that would happen.
The movie is an emotional one which allows the audience to be able to connect to it on a deep level since the audience is familiar with family struggles and the problem of trying to make everyone happy. It makes you think: what would I do in that situation? What if that was my family?
The story also raises moral questions and presents both sides equally well. At first you may have a strong opinion about genetic mutation of a baby but by the end you may have completely changed your opinion about it or become undecided. You are very much thrown in to both the parents and Anna's perspective and thus it makes it very hard to take sides since you can imagine clearly being in both their situation.
Overall I would recommend watching this movie. It makes you think and question what you held as important. It is a good stand alone movie but I would also recommend reading the book because it is true what they say: The book is always better than the movie.
This is a very watchable movie but you must be in the mood for it because it is not the happy cheerful girly movie that Cameron Diaz usually stars in, quite far from it in fact.
Indeed have your tissue box at the ready because, believe me you are going to need it whether you are a cry baby in front of movies or not. It is impossible to remain with dry eyes when watching this movie. In fact I cried from beginning to end nearly but yes I have to admit I do have a tendency to let the tears come out freely!!
The acting is good in my opinion. The children actors' performances especially are very convincing but I felt that Cameron Diaz fell to slip in the mother role, she just get to agitated at times just like she does when she plays the silly but entertaining pretty blond and that just doesn't do the trick for this much deeper Mum character.
Overall, and this is true of most movie to me as I am a keen reader, the movie is not a patch on the book. Jodi Picoult is such a great write and novelist. She is a natural at presenting today's moral issues in such a thought provoking way and with an ease that can only be true to gifted writer. Jodi Picoult has written over 20 books, most if not all bestsellers and about 4 (I believe) have been made into movies.
As for any good book, a movie always come second.
So read Picoult first and then enjoy the movie.
Film - My Sisters Keeper
Based on the book from Jodi Picoult.
Main actors are Cameron Diaz, Jason Patrick, and Alec Baldwin
Certificate - 12
Running Time - 109 minutes
- Story -
An eleven year old girl decides to go behind her parents backs and sue them for medical emancipation after she's asked to donate her kidney to her older sister who suffers from leukemia. She has spent practically her entire life donating different things from her body (blood, bone marrow etc.) to help save her sister but she doesn't want to donate her kidney as she feels this is a step too far and she argues that she wants to be able to live her own life, as much as she cares for her sister and wants her to beat the leukemia. Her mother is enraged that she'd dare try to get out of this and so as her case is taken on by a lawyer, she argues her own case against her own daughter in court, desperate to get access to her kidney to try to save her other child.
- Thoughts & Opinions -
* Side note - I try my best not to give any big spoilers in any of my film reviews but some may feel that I've given one or two slight clues that could be construed as spoilers, so if this would really frustrate you then you might want to skip this section and scroll down to the final heading instead, otherwise if your familiar with the story or aren't too bothered then read on below*
This is clearly a very emotional movie, one that is based on a novel by Jodi Picault which I remember hearing about a few years ago, which may have been based on a true story? im not sure but I can imagine such a situation taking place, so its fairly credible. Science has come forward in leaps and bounds over the last few decades, allowing such things to be possible but clearly with this ability brings moral debates and obviously legal cases. I found the story to be quite fascinating, there's two sides to it of course as it covers both Kates life, from her earlier days as she was initially diagnosed to her rebellion from her illness as she reached teenage years, as well as Annas life, including the discussion in a doctor (or surgeon?)'s office where he suggested that one way to help Kate would be to have another pregnancy, that they could ensure that the newborn child (ie. Anna) would have the right genetic profile to help Kate. Seeing things from both childs viewpoint as well as I felt there was a fair amount of emphasis given to the mother, Sara, made it possible to get a proper overview of what went on and hopefully helps you to come to your own conclusions, as it raises questions of whether what the parents did was selfish and wrong or not, as well as whether Anna was right or wrong to bring this landmark case against the parents and where Kate stood in all of this.
I felt that the cast did a good job as there were quite passionate portrayals given specifically by Cameron Diaz as the mother, Sara, who clearly has a very hard time coming to terms with the reality of Kates illness as hope for her recovery starts to dwindle, as well as Abigail Breslin, who plays Anna, a very frustrated child who lashes out ocassionally, frustrated by the position she's in but also does care for her sister - both actresses give dynamic performances which are certainly not wooden. I can only imagine that the story touched them somehow, its certainly a very moving story. Some of the dialogue is quite poignant, with dialogue put across by different cast members narrating different scenes, although its not really possible to go into much detail or many specifics without really giving away too much of the story that it could be seen to spoil the ending (though its true some people may already be aware of the full story before choosing to watch the movie).
I felt that the movie handled the subject quite sensitively, the only part that didn't quite gel with me entirely as such somehow was at the very end where text appears on screen giving you an update of what happened in the years afterwards, some of which seemed awfully coincidental and it felt to me like it was a bit too Hollywood-esque in the way it wrapped up one or two aspects, I suppose (although it isn't all positive either, I try not to give too much away about it) - it seemed slightly cliche in a way that perhaps wasn't entirely necessary. There are some scenes which come across as almost dream like, ethereal in a way, which in one sense maybe enthralls the audience, there is something to it which is quite intriguing in the use of the freeze frame method to create the effect with strong colours emphasising the bubbles all around in one scene and the small fairy lights in another but other people might argue that its unnecessary and over sentimental.
For some reason, I was quite surprised when I saw Alec Baldwin appear as the lawyer, Campbell Alexander. I somehow didn't expect to see such a well known name in the role, I'm not entirely sure why but I remember thinking that for some reason he didn't, to me, fit in quite right in this movie but that was just at first I suppose. I'm almost surprised that he took the time to read Annas background information and didn't tell her to 'get out of my office, kid' or some such.
The scenes within the court room during the hearing are quite passionate and makes for good viewing - at no point in the movie did I feel that the story was dragging, it kept me guessing until the end what the verdict would be and what would happen to Kate and to Anna.
There is a plot twist which did quite surprise me, I wasn't expecting it and it made me think - this is certainly a thought provoking movie which raises some interesting issues around genetic screening and family dynamics - it was interesting to see the different attitudes the mother and father had and how they communicated with their children. There are, of course, some slightly upsetting scenes and not just that show the suffering of Kate but more specifically when Sara seems to really lose perspective and starts screaming at her husband for taking Kate out of the hospital to have a family afternoon out at the beach, chasing the family car down the road. Its hard going to watch at points and you might want to have a tissue or two handy but for the most part its quite a well handled movie (if you know what I Mean?). The only real criticism being that some may not entirely love the degree of sentimentality used but then without at least an element of that then it just wouldn't work surely?, one or two pieces of information provided at the very end I felt could have perhaps been left out but then thats maybe me being picky but otherwise I can't really think of anything else I can complain about or ciriticise validly.
Just to round up, content wise this movie contains some strong language and the ocassional brief scene of blood or other potentially slightly disturbing images. This movie is rated 12a mainly due to the story I'd have thought as well as the ocassional swear word. There isn't any real violence or anything else to offend, so I'd say that this film is suitable for young teenagers to watch.
- Would I Recommend It? -
Yes, I think this is a decent movie that raises some difficult questions. Its perhaps a bit over sentimental if anything but then if thats all I can really fault it for then thats not too bad going, surely. There's a decent cast propping it up who give quite impressive performances and the movie shows the story from a few different angles, giving the viewer a good overview and the ability to hopefully come to their own conclusions about what the family did, whether what they did was right or wrong and so on. There's also a plot twist which, as I mentioned, took me by surprise and made me think - its quite a thought provoking movie, so yes I'd recommend it if it interests you. One or two pieces of dialogue may stick with you for some time.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks for any and all rates and comments.
I originally watched this film in the pictures when it first came out but hadn't seen it again until today. I recorded it on Sky last week and decided to watch it this morning.
The film centres around a teenage girl suffering from Leukaemia. It shows the family's struggle to cope with the strains of the disease as well as their other children, Jesse and Anna. Anna, their youngest child was genetically 'created' to ensure she had the same chromosome design as her sister and would be able to donate bone marrow, kidneys and blood etc to her when she needed it. This worked for years, but now Anna is 11 and decides that she wants control of her own body. She seeks out a good lawyer and sues her parents for the right to own her body whilst her mother, Sara continues the battle to save Kate's life.
The cast includes Sofia Vassilieva who plays the terminally ill Kate, Abigail Breslin portraying her younger sister Anna and Cameron Diaz as their mother Sara. I thought that Sofia Vassilieva did a fantastic job. At just 16 years old when the film was made, she brings so much emotion and sadness to the role and makes it seem very real. I also enjoyed Abigail Breslin's performance in the film as she is such a talented young actress. I've only seen her in Zombie land before this film and she was great in that too. I think she's very talented but didn't feel that she was old enough for this role. I hate to criticise young talent, but going to court and suing your parents just seemed a little too mature for her.
Cameron Diaz isn't one of my favourite actresses and always seems to play a good bimbo in films like In her Shoes and The sweetest thing but in this film she really changed my opinion of her. She portrays a protective mother very well and I was suprised to see how well she adapted for the role. I read that she spoke to mothers in who were really in her characters situation, nursing their terminally ill children to help her understand the role better. She delivered a really emotional wrenching performance and I think the film actually made me like her as an actress a lot more.
The storyline is well written and fairly easy to follow although in parts it jumps in time to the past or back to the present and I found this confusing sometimes. I like this idea in films if it is explained thoroughly but there were times when I wasn't sure whether it was past or present. Other than that, I enjoyed the dialogue and general screenplay in the film. It's incredibly sad to watch and I'll admit a couple of parts of the film actually had me welling up which is very unlike me. I think that the film was well made with good make-up, costumes and hospital scenes to make it more realistic and Sofia Vassilieva actually shaved her head and eyebrows for the role too which I thought was super suprising.
For me, I found this film was interesting as cancer is something I've been fortunate enough not to witness first hand and don't know much about. I was intrigued about how it could be portrayed in a film and how they'd show the detoerioration of the patient. I think this film was pretty realistic from what I'd imagine, I didn't think that it made cancer seem anymore glamorous than it really is which is good. I would definitely say it's an interesting film but I wouldn't call it entertaining. For me, there's nothing entertaining about watching a 16 year old facing death from a terminal illness, even if it is just a film.
I've read and heard that the book is much better than the film itself so I hope I'll get round finding out for myself soon as the book sounds really good. Until then, the film was a good enough watch and definitely got it's point accross. It's a real tear-jerker and gives an insight on what cancer patients families may go through. I'd recommend it, but get the tissues at the ready.
As the winter approches, the though of going out in the cold puts me off, as it would anyone, I mean who wants to go outside in the cold and get socking wet? Not me thats for sure, so what I end up doing is going on to ASDA online, picking a few DVDs wait a few days for them to arrive. You cant beat being indoors with a good film, candles light, the dovet cover, and some yummy munchies. I had never heard nor seen this DVD before, I actually found it by being a cheap skate. If you go onto the ASDA website you can choose the proce ranges that you are willing to pay and it takes you to a libuary of differnt DVD's. My budget was £3 so I started flicking through them, always picking up DVD's for the children, I hardly ever pick any for myself but this one stuck out to me. My Sisters Keeper, has that certain ring to it, I instandly wanted to know more and not forgetting the fact that Carmeron Diaz stars in it (favourate actress of mine) I had to order it.
It is mid afternoon, the children are out with their Father and im sat twiddeling my thumbs, then I remembered that the day before My Sisters Keeper arrived by post though my door. I went into the kitchen grabbed a large bag of chrisps, some chocolate, sweets, and a nice warm cup of hot chocolate, not forgetting a lovely warm hot water bottle. I set up the DVD and went though to the bedroom to get my duvet covers and plank them on the sofa. Okay, so I know I sound like a little old woman, but hey a girl is got to what a girl has got to do. The film first started of with me sitting watching in amazement, that much so by the end of the film my hot chocolate was cold. But by the end of it my face is streaked with blackened mascara tears, and eyelines smudged all over my face, I defenatly rocked the look.
If your looking for a comedy or a chick film, this is the wrong film for you to watch at this time. But if your looking to watch a film that is deeply moving and inspiring story then please read on.
Sarah and Brian Fitzgerald (played by Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) used to have a normal life. Brian (a fireman) and Sarah (a successful lawyer). They had two children, Jesse and Kate (played by Evan Ellingson and Sofia Vassilieva). But one day, the world stopped as they discovered that Kate had leukaemia. She was around the age of two years of age. Anna Fitzgerald (played by Abigail Breslin) the third child, was born to help her sister Kate's cancer.Kate needed a compatible donor match to help fight her cancer. The doctor recommended to Sarah and Brian the creation of a perfectly matched test tube baby, Anna. I know what your thinking, probably the same as what I was. What an earth are they thinking? They cant have a child, just to use for spare parts for Kate, isnt that child creulty? Now 11 years old, it seems that Anna is sick of having to go through various operations in order to help her sister. Anna loves Kate dearly and you see her helping her sister clean up after the is throwing up blood, she draws the line at donating her kidney to Kate. And without that kidney, Kate will die. This story is fundamentally a story about choice of freedom, it prompts many questions. Should Anna get a say in whether she donates her organs or bone marrow, or is she, as her dominating mother asserts, too young to make choices, he first surgery was when Anna was just weeks old? Even more seriously, should Kate get a say over whether she wants to be saved by her sister? The whole debate about the Sarah, the Mother, beliving that her daughter Anna must go though with the kidney transplant, and Anna standing her ground, tthe conflict begins to tear the family apart, resulting in a Supreme Court case, Anna against her mother. Not nice for the Father to see or the Brother, the end up drawing their own lines. Some might think that Anna being heartless or is there another motive? Sarah believes Anna is hiding something, but Anna refuses to talk. Meanwhile, major events in Kate's life are relived through flashbacks as she lies in her hospital bed: her first operation, her first holiday, her first kiss. Throughout the film, Kate appears at times emotionally unstable, which is understanable I mean having Cancer as an adult is hard enough but being a child and knowing that some point you are going to die is extremely difficult. Her mother is a fighter, she appears fierce, pushy, over-protective and at times ridiculous, sacrificing her job, her lifestyle, her sanity and almost her marriage for Kate, but if you take the time to think... What would you do if that was your child? But Sarah refuses to accept that Kate may one day die, despite Supreme Court Judge Salvo's gentle statement that 'There is no shame in death'. This film in all honesty is a heart-breaking is more ways than one, espiecally if you wasn't expecting it to be you will be taken by surprise. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby, I was totally heart broken for all the family and thier own issues. Having two children of my own it really put things into perspective, the thought of having to make that awful desicion has moved me to tears all over again. When my girls came home from spending time with their Father, I held on to them tight and didn't want to let them go. My boyfriend has actually thought that something awful had happened while he was away, I was just so thankful to have two very beautiful healthy girls. My Sisters Keeper is a very moving film and makes you realize how luckily you really are.
For such an emotional movie, the acting for all the characters in this film is totally amazing, they all done themselves proud. Sofia Vassilieva's who plays Kate, the cancer patient who just wants freedom, was fantastic, she brought a tear to my eye almost every time she said something poignant. Her real sense of spirit and intelligence about matters of death and the afterlife and how she always worried about everyone else, so much so she even made her Mother a memory book which is another part of the ilm that brought tears to my eyes. Jason Patric who played the fath was wonderfully sensitive in his role as he just wants his family brought back together, and puts his ill daughters needs first, and realises when enough is enough. The outstanding performance for me is Cameron Diaz in her role of Sarah. She has a very difficult part to play, I mean she done everything in her power as a mother to keep her child alive. Cameron Diaz normally plays roles in comedy films, so I was pleasantly surprised by her in this film.
There is so much more I wish I could tell you, but I feel I have revealed enough, I'm not wanting to waste too much of the story. Suffice to say that the road is rocky for the Fitzgerald family, and you never really know how they come out of it until the very end. A moving, tear jerking film, in act probably one of the most best films I have watched. I have rated this film a five out of five, and would urge you to watch it, although be warned and have your tissues at the ready. I hope my review was of some use to you, thank you for taking your time to read it.
*This is a film only review*
Film - My Sisters Keeper
Main actors - Cameron Diaz, Jason Patric, and Alec Baldwin
Certificate - 12
Running Time - 109 minutes
Genre - Drama
I am a Jodi Picoult fan, converted to her style of writing after the first book of hers that I read, which was 'My Sisters Keeper'. I LOVED the book, found it to be well written, emotional, gripping, heart felt, and with a twist to the end of the story. I felt that there was no way the film could live up to the book. I have to admit - I was right. Now, I know books get changed for the big screen - it's a fact of life when it comes to film adaptations - so I was fully expecting there to be some changes. With my expectations of these changes and the reviews I'd had from friends, I was actually put off watching this movie. Curiosity got the better of me, so today I curled up on the sofa and decided to give the movie a go. I was aware before watching that the ending had been changed. After watching the film I feel that the screenplay should have kept the ending of the book. It would have made the ending a lot more dramatic, and would have made the film stick in the viewers mind for a lot longer. I'm not going to reveal the endings (in the book or film), you will have to read/watch to find out the endings.
*Short plot summary*
Sara and Brian Fitzgerald (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) have an idyllic life with their two children, until they discover that their daughter, aged just 2, has leukaemia. The two parents make the decision to have a third child, Anna (Abigail Breslin), genetically matched to their eldest daughter, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva). Anna is subjected to multiple operations throughout her life in order to help her sister survive, whilst older brother Jesse (Evan Ellingson) is left on the sidelines to go off the rails. When Anna is told she WILL donate a kidney to Kate, Anna decides she has had enough and takes her parents to court to fight for the right to own her body and not have to go through everything she has been though in her life so far.
I am normally used to seeing Cameron Diaz in a comedy role, so seeing her in something this serious was a little different, and I'll give her some credit, I feel as though she did take to the role of Sara Fitzgerald. She played the role of distraught mother well.
Jason Patric did well as the father trying to hold his family together. He was subtly full of emotion. I think I would have liked to see more of him, especially as he does seem to have more of a role in the book itself.
Alec Baldwin managed to portray Campbell Alexander in a very similar way to how I imagined him to be when reading the book, so I do admit I did like his character. He had a presence about him in the courtroom which mirrored my interpretations of him that I had from the book.
In regards to the children (well, teens), I feel as though they also all did well. Sofia Vassilieva didn't have the looks of the Kate I imagined from the book, but I feel as though she did portray Kate well. The part of Kate can't have been easy to play. I've heard rumours that Dakota Fanning was first offered the part of Kate, but refused to shave her hair for the part. I'm not sure if I can picture Fanning in the role, and am glad that Vassilieva took the role on. This quote from Vassilieva is on IMDB.com and I think it sums up her attitudes in regards to her acting and playing Kate Fitzgerald and the maturity that she has, and I feel that this has really helped her portray Kate on screen -
"There are scripts when you fall so much in love with your character. And if you are lucky and offered this part you should not tempt your fate and go to the greatest extent to be/to play this character. If you have an opportunity to do that and you do not, it's shameful. Shaving my head was the least I could do for Kate to experience a degree of her isolation and outcast from a 'normal' healthy life."
As well as Vassilieva, both Abigail Breslin and Evan Ellingson played the parts of Anna and Jesse well. For most of the film Breslin portrayed Anna well, but there were odd parts here and there where I would have liked to see more of the emotions in the character that are in the book. I think if the screenplay had been written differently it would have allowed for this to happen. But here I am comparing the book to the film. Trying to look at the film alone I did like how Breslin portrayed Anna. Same really for Jesse. When Ellingson was on screen I feel as though he did play the part of Jesse well, but again the screenplay didn't allow the character to shine as much as he does in the book.
Now, as mentioned, before watching this film I did think there was no way that this film would live up to the book. I was right. If directly comparing the book and the film I would give the film 2 stars. However, I am trying to be fair to the film and give it some credit in it's own right, even though the storyline has been changed, and changed significantly in some places. I feel as though the acting was generally done well throughout. In some respects the film did represent the book. For example the film did make an attempt at replicating Jodi Picoults writing style from which the story is told through different characters perspectives. In the film, this is done through narration. I don't normally like films with too much narration, but I feel it worked for this one.
As a film on it's own, I do actually think it is a good film. There is a story of a family to be told, and it is told reasonably well. However I can't help but compare it to the book. The film has nothing on the book, and as adaptations go it isn't the greatest. Friends of mine that haven't read the book have enjoyed this film a lot more, and I imagine this is because they don't have the book to compare the film to. Once you have read a book though it's practically impossible to not compare the two. The book is definitely superior to the film, but I would still recommend the film - just would advise to watch the film first.
I have given it 4 stars as I'm trying to be fair and judge just the film as I have rated the book in another review. If I were to rate the film as an adaptation, I would give it 2 stars.
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vassilieva, Walter Raney, and Alec Baldwin.
Run-time: 109 minutes
Based on the book: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I have not read the book so am basing my review entirely on the film.
Anna was conceived by IVF and born to be a genetic match to her sister Kate, in order that she could be a donor, providing bone marrow blood and anything else required to her sister who is extremely ill with Leukaemia. Eventually Kate, even after countless years of donations from Anna, requires Anna to donate her a kidney in order to survive. However, after suffering the pain of medical procedures in the past Anna does not want to go through another procedure so hires a lawyer so she can gain medical emancipation and have the rights to her own body meaning she can chose whether to donate the kidney rather than being forced by her parents.
A heart-breaking storyline of a family that is torn apart by a terrible illness, it really tugs on your heart strings. I have never cried at a film before but the reality of this film and great script had me reduced to tears. The acting was fantastic and you could believe you were looking through a window into the lives of this family. Even the younger actors were 100% believable, Abigail Breslin giving a magnificent performance. Cameron Diaz, although not one of my favourite actresses played the role of a grieving, conflicted mother extremely well. With twists and turns there is not a moment of boredom and I enjoyed the entire film (even with the tears pouring down my face). I decided not to let my younger sister aged 13 to watch it, simply because it is so emotional and if there have been incidences of cancer or other diseases in the family it can be quite distressing to watch.
It would probably be better to rent this DVD rather than buy it, as after finding yourself so emotionally drained after watching it you are unlikely to watch it again anytime soon. However it is a great film that I recommend you watch but just remember be prepared with a box of tissues if you are going to brave it.
Star -Cameron Diaz
Certificate - 13
Run Time - 109 minutes
Genre - Drama
If there is a God then he/she/it wouldn't let kids get cancer, simple as. But they do and so the idea of a God seems completely absurd to me. You can't totally discount an almighty as the universe is probably as endless as time and so anything is statistically possible, but he/she/it needs to rewrite the bits of the rules that make innocent kids suffer who are not old enough to do anything wrong to deserve that in this particular world. Baring that in mind, why make it worse for the kids in making a bloody awful movie about it!
The film is based on the best selling book of the same name from celebrated 'chick lit' author Jodi Piccoult, and quite a controversial book by all-accounts, this particular title becoming the seventh most 'challenged' title on the 2009 American Literature Association website list of banned books, the tome frequently turfed out of American schools and libraries for its, and I quote: "Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit Chapters, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Drugs, Suicide and Violence. Now if they had made the original movie then maybe I would have liked it.The fact that most of that stuff has been chainsawed out of the screenplay is probably why this film is so irritating and mushy.
Abigail Breslin ... Andromeda 'Anna' Fitzgerald
Sofia Vassilieva ... Kate Fitzgerald
Cameron Diaz ... Sara Fitzgerald
Jason Patric ... Brian Fitzgerald
Evan Ellingson ... Jesse Fitzgerald
Alec Baldwin ... Campbell Alexander
Brennan Bailey ... Jesse Fitzgerald - Age 10
Olivia Hancock ... Kate Fitzgerald - Age 2
Joan Cusack ... Judge De Salvo
Thomas Dekker ... Taylor Ambrose
Kate Fitzgerald (Sofia Vassilieva) has had cancer for most of her young life, her little sister Anna (Abigail Breslin) sadistically conceived by her parents to harvest blood from her stem cells, or, indeed, anything else to keep her older sister going.
Effectively an unwilling donor since birth she is about to fight back, especially to pushy mum Sara (Cameron Diaz), who has made it known to Anna that she WILL donate one of her kidneys to her sister on her 13th birthday. Anna decides to seek out celebrated TV lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) who, impressed with the little girls pluck and approach, agrees to take the case pro bono, turning down Anna's saved up $122 dollars as the first payment. Anna knows the operation will be major for both of them and may even kill Kate and so clearly not that keen on such intrusive and risky surgery. She wants both sisters to be able to make their own decisions in life from now on in and Judge De Salvo (Joan Cusack) will hear the case in the downtown Los Angles courtroom to that effect. The judge maybe sympathetic as she has recently lost her young son to a drink driver.
Meanwhile, Anna's brother Jesse (Evan Ellingson), who has spent most of his life being ignored in favor of ill Kate or donor Anna, has spent most of his teenage years setting fire to abandoned buildings with home-made explosives, knowledge learnt from his fire-fighter dad (Jason 'Lost Boys' Patric), and now doing drugs now he isnt doing that. But as Kates conditon worsened he intends to reform his ways and hopes to go to Police Academy to please his dad.
Things maybe looking up for Kate too when her tests show an improvement and she meets hunky fellow cancer sufferer Taylor Ambrose (Thomas Dekker), the two soon an item. Kate is determined to enjoy what time she has and an ideal chance to follow her little sisters rebellion against her totally controlling mom by sneaking off with Taylor as many times as she can. But the stress is forcing her parent's marriage apart, dad firmly in the camp that he just wants his daughter to enjoy herself while she can, mum terrified Kate will pick up an infection and so even a rare family trip to the beach for the day enough for a blazing row. But what if Anna's court case is not about her and something far deeper, a decision her parents have never really though about...
The biggest sin in Hollywood is to make a really cheesy and over-sentimental movie about a serious subject, as is the case here. You must be incredibly confident to do a 'dromedy' (drama-comedy) about cancer, especially in a young girl, and if you get it wrong then you may never work again. It's a shame as Director Nick Cassavetes did rather well with his previous film The Notebook and got the balance just right on similar topics of romance around a tragic terminal illness. Baring that in mind I just don't know why this movie is so 'lite', overly sentimental and cliché packed, the scripting as clumsy as a drunken octopus who works as a waiter, often shamefully so, a director who has made an atrocious movie because he didn't understand the story that needed to be told. You can't just throw molasses over every script guys!
It's too glossy and the pastel sunshine colour of California too loud for the book and the presence of Cameron Diaz in a serious role is a complete miscast. When the twist comes there's a collective gasp from the audience, not in delight but in shock because it's so feeble and cheesy. I don't know if this is based on a true story or not but its not a story worth telling, the legal precedent for me the only interesting thing here but that 'dumbed down' with that over-sentimentality and chase for tears.
I'm ASTONISHED this dross scored a lofty 7.4 on the normally reliable Imdb.com movie database. The critics rightfully panned it elsewhere but, as expected, it scored well with that mainstream American audience that needs gushing sentimentality in their movies like they do sugar sprinkle on their donuts. They just love this stuff and not remotely bothered how well rounded the lead characters are or how plausible the story is, as long as the tears flow at the right time and the film is dressed with a suitable array of names and tear jerking pop songs, Alec Baldwin only on board to make sure it got finance, we presume. There's a kernel of a good idea buried here to deliver a movie but this just doesn't do it. The only interesting narrative thread I wanted it to nibble at is the perfect parents producing defective kids and how that would eat at their egos? But, alas, it was not to be. The film has a profound and compelling premise. Regrettably, it seems intent on being about everything but that premise.
LA Times - "There is a touch of contrivance to the set-up that is not totally convincing and the film avoids much of the ethical arguments in favour of family drama. But I must admit to being affected".
The Sydney Morning herald - "What starts as an exploration of the ethics of organ-donation and genetic selection, rapidly disintegrates into a sloppy, unstructured, tear-jerking mess".
The Sun - "I tried to keep an open mind, hoping something would win me over. It didn't happen".
The Bostom times - "[Nick Cassavetes] refuses to let the material speak for itself, putting a famous-for-making-women-cry song behind almost every scene, and lingering on every sentimental moment."
Imdb.com scores it 7.4 out of 10.0 (16,756 votes)
Rottentomatos.com - 48% approval rate by the critics (73% user approval)
Mettacritc.com - 51% approval rating by the critics (62% user approval)
An insightful tale of a teenager and her long suffering battle with leukaemia, her younger sister who has been born to live life as a human guinea pig genetically engineered to prolong her elder sisters life, a mother who refuses to choose between allowing her eldest daughter to die peacefully or prolonging her life at the painfull expense of her younger sister and how a family struggles to cope with the ethical challenges and moral dilemmas associated with their tragic situation.
My Sisters Keeper tells the story of the Fitzgeralds, a family being torn apart by the strains of a disease slowly consuming their eldest daughter Kate.
Sara, an ex-lawyer is a full time stay at home mum. Brian her husband is a fire fighter. From the age of two their eldest daughter Kate has suffered from leukaemia and now at age sixteen it has reappeared agressivly and is begining to consume her body and she desperatley needs a bone marrow transplant. Jesse their other child is not a match but Anna, due to a medical procedure when she was concieved ensured that she contained the exact genetic make up required to provide her sister with valuable bone marrow, something that she has been aware of and accepting of all her life. Now Anna is thirteen and after countless invasive and painful medical procedures and operations Anna has decided she wants no more and sues her parents for the "right to own her body". Sara has been so intent on doing anything possible to save Kates life that she fails to notice that Kate has found peace and acceptance of her terminal situation and wants to say goodbye.
The story challenges the very core of whats right and wrong and what is morally acceptable and ethical. What you find is that there are no real answers only justifications for the choices made.
My Personal review:
I had high hopes for the film having read the book of the same name. Where Jodi picoult managed to produce a powerful novel that took the reader on a gamut of emotions that ranged from tearful and sad to triumphant and uplifting the Hollywood film does not.
The book was emotionally charged with much focus on the unbreakable bond of the two sisters and of course the moral boundries that threatened to tear the family apart. The book posed questions to the reader of the ehtics of a younger sibling "purposely farmed" for want of a better expression to provide a bone marrow match for her elder sister and prevoked opinionated divide as to the extent of the sacrifice the little girl should be "allowed" to under go in order to prolong her sisters life. Picoult managed to pose the dilemas that the family faced with great sensativity without actually swaying to either side of the moral fence.
The story in the film however is weak, trying to gloss over many aspects of the book without providing the audience in depth accounts of the characters or the situations they were in and the wishy washy scripting was, for me at least not the worst thing about the film it was undoubtably the casting. I can only assume that either the casting director assumed that big names would equal gauranteed box office gold (aka Camerin Diaz, child favourite of the month Abigale Breslin and Medium's Sophia Vassilieva) or the other worthy actresses better suited to the roles took one glance of the script and passed in the oportunity because they realised it was sub standard.
Cameron Diaz is a respectable "A" lister, known predominently for her quirky, fun loving characters that embody the romcoms and it was clear from a few scenes in that she was out of her comfort zone and clearly out of her depth. On the rare occassions she has digressed from her usual roles she has done a pretty good job but this was a character she really should have passed on and to be fair a script she should never have gotten to read. She does nothing through out the film to fully convince me that she is a mother let alone a mother of a daughter with lukemia. There are better suited actresses out there (they didnt even have to be well known) that could have provided a far more superior performance. It isnt just Camerons fault the part needed a grittier more down to earth (real) performance and there was no way I could ever envisage the fun loving Californian being able to achieve that.
Abigale Breslin put in a great show for a youngster in Little Miss Sunshine but again I felt she was miss-cast for her part as the younger sister whos had all but became a walking doner for her older sister. She has great potential to be a formidable actress but she didnt feel mature enough for me to handle the significant and challenging nature of the role as the key link between her sister and mother that her part needed. Sophia Vassilieva was the shock performance for me providing the cancer stricken character with a decent enough amount of realism that at times does bring a tear to the eye.
Overall My Sisters Keeper had potential to be so much more than mediocre but with the absense of a well written script (annoying since Piccoult had already supplied a compassionate and poignant novel), pooly chosen choice of actors and glossing over of too many important and key elements of the story. With the right mix this film (based purely on the plot itself) could have at least been rewarded with a few academic nods if not perhaps a couple of acadamy nominations but it has sank misarably depriving the production team and actors of critical acclaim, audience of a sincere and inspiring, thought provoking masterpiece and the studio a cash printing blockbuster.
At best if I was picoult I would have been dubious if Hollywood were knocking at my door promising the earth to condense a year or so of my work into an hour and half of big screen entertainment. I wonder how much influence and opinion she had in the changing of the plot and the choice of cast and how pleased (or not so) she is now since Hollywood took this well respected authors work and diluted it to the slop that they produced.
I am surprised that this film has on this site the overall score that it does. Is it watchable? yes. Is it tearful? at times but thats it. if you want to be really emotionally moved then read the book as it will provide you with so much more than the film ever can.
A friend of mine borrowed a book to me, and although I didn't really like the idea reading about a girl with leukemia, she said I don't need to worry, that it's actually a great story. I believed her and wasn't disappointed. I couldn't wait to watch a DVD and got it in HMV as soon as I finished the book. Everyone I talked to about this movie prior to watching said they cried a lot, and I didn't really undrestand as yes, in book there were moments for a tear, but a lot? Something wasn't ok there...
Briefly, it's a story about a girl with leukemia and her sister, who was genetically "created" to be a perfect match and a donor for her. The healthy sister decides to sue her parents to have the right to make decisions about her on body, as she does not want to her kidney to be removed.
Sure this is one of many cases where the movie only has a fraction of quality of the book, which is understandable, but this movie actually made me angry rather than sad. It's depressive and makes you miserable, and yes, if I didn't read the book before I would probably cry from beginning to the end, but not the way I would enjoy it. It was so different to the book - major circumstaces missing, and the main point - the end was not the same (not even similar), giving the story completely different idea.
To sum up, I won't judge level of acting and other things you usually review about the movie, because it's not even worth it. It's not a romantic story that makes you cry, it doesn't have much of a information value, it's just incomplete and not interesting story that makes you sad in not good way. It has taken everything that made the book good away and only left the misery.
My Sister's Keeper
I really wanted to see this film at the cinema, but as life inevitable does it got in the way and it wasn't until recently that I sat down to watch this. I had read the book way before I even knew there was going to be a film made and it is one of my favourite books from the author, Jodi Picoult. I was looking forward to seeing the film version, I thought that this would be a good story that leant itself well to making a great film.
The film and story revolve around a family with more than their shares of emotional and physical problems. Their oldest daughter developed cancer at a young age, the diagnosis was not good and unfortunately her life expectancy was thought to be short. It turned out that for any chance to live she was going to require a whole host of medical interventions and donations, but none of the parents or her younger brother were a good match to be an exact donor and provide her with the much needed life saving bone marrow amongst other things. That is when the family decided to go ahead and have a designer baby, a child that would be a perfect match to help her sister. From the moment the newborn entered the world she was used to help her sister Katie to live.
But there comes a point when everyone draws a line, for Anna that day had come and she was suing her parents for medical emancipation. She wanted to have the final say whether her body was used for medical treatments for her sister. The story is more complex than just that because it is clear that they all love each other and none of their actions come from any place but love.
There were a lot of other sub-plots that kept the story and characters moving along, but it made the characters feel more real. The brother had almost not been diagnosed with dyslexia because his parents weren't neglectful but just busy with dealing with his sister's cancer. Priorities had to be made and the childhood he should have had he never got and as such grew up to be quite a troubled teenager.
This is quite a sad film, definitely one that might have you grasping for the tissues, especially if you have ever had to watch or experience the devastating effects that cancer can have on lives. There are some really touching moments in this film when we get to watch the joys and frustrations and heart ache of first love, again made all the more complicated because of the unfairness of cancer.
There was a lot of good and believable acting, the children especially did a wonderful job. Even Cameron Diaz looked like a frustrated and a frazzled mother that was torn between impossible decisions.
The film was good, if the ending had been like the original that was in the book then I would have given this even more stars, but I think to be fair this film gets an average three out of five stars. But it is definitely on the good side of average.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film from beginning to start. I would recommend watching this, although it does track the book in parts you definitely don't need to have read the book to get the most out of this film. In fact I would probably recommend watching the film and then reading the book rather than doing it the other way around.
I have read a couple of Jodi Picoult's books and liked them. My sister's keeper was one of the ones most recommended to me. Once I heard the film was coming out I decided to wait and read the book only after I had seen the film, as I find things tend not to get so spolit that way round.
I waited until the film came out on DVD as I wanted to watch it in the comfort of my own home. I bought it from Amazon for under £10 and snuggled up on the sofa for a lazy Sunday afternoon of DVD watching. I have since seen you can get it for as low as £5 from www.play.co.uk
Kate, suffers from an acute form of Lukemia. Her parents Sara (a fiesty over protective mother who will do anything to keep her daughter alive) and Brian, her slightly more realistic father, are subtly given the idea by the doctor (who cannot tell them waht to do, only leave them with ideas) to have the a genetic match donor baby by IVF.
Along comes Anna Fitzgerald, who undergoes many major operations from a young age to keep her sister alive. Once she turns 15 and her sister suffers renal failure she knows she will be asked to be the donor. She appears sick of the trauma and approaches a lawyer to help her sue her parents fro the rights to her own body. The film ends with a twist as all is not what it seems, alike to other Jodi Picoult books.
As the film progresses the effects on those around Kate and Anna as they are not the only children in the family, and the stress and strain on the parents. The real strengths of this film are in the questioning of each characters position and making you feel for everyone involved, and see their different reasoning and you really wonder where you would lie.
I loved this film. It is thought provoking, incredibly touching but so very sad! I cried from start to finish.
Based on the novel by Jodi Picoult, "My Sister's Keeper" tells the story of Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin), a young girl conceived via IVF for the purpose of providing compatible genetic material to keep her sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), alive. Kate is suffering from a type of leukemia and needs regular operations whereby Anna is used as a donor. When Kate reaches 15 years of age she goes into renal failure and Anna is expected to donate a kidney to save her life. Anna seeks out a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) and pays him to sue her parents for the rights to her own body. She will have to face her mother (Cameron Diaz), a recently retired lawyer and the strong, well-meaning, caring but domineering matriarch of the family. As the lead up to the case unfolds, we discover how each of Kate's family members was impacted by their sister's disease...
The premise didn't look promising to me. A story about cancer featuring stock sentimentalists Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin is usually a red flag for me. However, a drama with a very challenging moral dilemma often piques my interest. Director Nick Cassavetes has created something of a reputation for making "chick flicks" in recent years. This is largely due to his hugely successful romantic drama "The Notebook" and an earlier work mother/daughter life lessons type work, "Unhook the Stars". However, he is also the man responsible for "John Q" - a film inspired by a true story about a man who takes the occupants of a hospital hostage in order to get his son on a heart donor recipient's list. It is this film that comes close to the difficult issues and depth present in what could have been just another schmaltzy tear-jerker.
Where "My Sister's Keeper" succeeds no doubt lies a lot in the strong storyline and how it has been adapted. We are not only thrown a moral dilemma, but all of the characters are three dimensional personalities complete their own individual flaws that allow us to see their different points of view quite clearly. Only the most resolute absolutist will come down hard and without on Cameron Diaz's well-meaning and driven mother character. Her choices are wrong and blinkered, but you can understand them - this is more "A Few Good Men" than "Doubt" territory in this sense. Diaz's performance here is generally quite understated and she pretty much steals the show in a subtle way. In times of crisis a leader needs to step up, hold everyone together and decide on a direction - sometimes that direction is wrong. Diaz does a sympathetic and convincing job in conveying this type of situation.
Other performances are also noteworthy, particularly the film's young leads. I first saw Abigail Breslin in the disappointing "Signs", then again in the brilliant black comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" - a wonderful commentary on the middle class US attitude towards losing, which I have previously reviewed - where she was unrecognizable as the seven year old plump bespectacled daughter of a dysfunctional family. Recently I saw her put in an unmemorable performance in the mediocre yet over-rated horror comedy, "Zombieland", but her work in this film, released the same year, has made me realize that her star has not yet waned. It sounds harsh, but despite being the youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, the eventual fall of child or teenage stars is a modern parable in Hollywood. Think Shirley Temple or Macaulay Culkin or the two Coreys and need I go on. Sofia Vassilieva is also worth watching and does well not to just go for the obvious sympathetic angle in her performance. She seems very natural in what is perhaps the second hardest role in the film, Diaz's character being the first.
These are the standout performances. Baldwin does an apt job, but nothing. He is undeniably a good actor, but he is no longer among the main actors you look towards for playing male liberal heroes. Actors like Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, George Clooney and Edward Norton seem to always be there whenever that high profile opportunity arises. Baldwin seems stuck between vying for this top position whilst desperately paddling away from Robin Williams-style over-sentimental characters. His character never really sparkles, as there is little in the way of courtroom drama and the lion's share of this is taken up by Diaz's confrontation with her children. It is here that Evan Elingson, who plays the only male of the children, gets his one and only short moment of glory. Other notable cast members - and it is quite a well-known line-up - include Joan Cusack who plays the court judge and Jason Patric.
I don't wish to take too much away from Cassavetes who very effectively divides up the piece, showing the different perspectives and revelations without being too much on the nose. His most obvious device, which is the film's trademark, is the way he plunges the film into darkness for short pauses between each scene. It almost offers the audience a time to digest and reflect, and is a slightly risky tactic. Some might find it verging on arty pretentiousness in a picture that is clearly not intended to be considered art-house; others might feel it is being a little preachy by its implication - here endeth the lesson if you like. However, I think it pays off and makes a nice dividing line, which is more subtle than chapter titles - an idea that could have easily been chosen. The notable temptation that the whole production pulled back from - and for which I am most grateful - was the egregious "Inspired by true events" subtitle. "My Sister's Keeper" certainly feels like a true story film, but its novel makes no such pretensions and therefore neither does the movie.
The resulting picture is a moving and thought-provoking piece. As previously mentioned, it falls short of leaving you with a particularly difficult moral question, but it is still a good exercise in understanding humanity in the modern world. Strong and balanced performances by the film's female leads and direction that is just quirky enough to give it a unique feel, makes "My Sister's Keeper" one of 2009's better US dramas, and its commercial success gives us hope for a recession hit film industry that seems intent on spewing out low-risk formulaic popcorn side accompaniments.
My Sister's Keeper
FILM ONLY REVIEW
There are two types of film only review that can be made of this film. The first from watching the film without reading the book, and the second, watching the film after reading the book. Each review from each different perspective will be different. I personally read the book only a few days before watching the film and so the book was very clear in my mind. At first I wondered whether I had done the right thing by doing this as quite often I feel a film a let down after reading and loving a book (to see my thoughts on the book, please see my 'My Sisters Keeper' book review) though I was pleasantly surprised with this film in the main.
"In my first memory, I am three years old, and I am trying to kill my sister. Sometimes, the recollection is so clear I can remember the itch of the pillowcase under my hand, the sharp point of her nose pressing against my palm..."
My Sister's Keeper started life as a novel by Jodi Picoult. It follows the story of eleven year old Anna Fitzgerald as she seeks out the successful lawyer Campbell Alexander and hires him to earn medical emancipation from her parents. You see, although Anna is not sick, she may as well be as by the age of eleven she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions and injections in a bid to help save her sister who is dying of Leukaemia. Anna was conceived and born for this purpose and her parents tell her this is why they love her even more so. Now, Anna can not help but wonder what her life would have been like if it were not tied to her sisters life and so makes the decision to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.
When a film is born out of a novel you expect some changes in order to fit the whole story in to a few hours of viewing though within this film, there are a few changes which really annoyed me and one in particular which ruined the whole film for me. These changes, though, would obviously not be an issue for those who have read the book as the changes have not created a bad film, though I found myself wondering why they made these changes as there was nothing wrong with the way the book was. One insignificant change was the age of Anna. In the book she was thirteen though in the film they made her eleven. Why? This change does not effect the film or story though is rather an annoying change as there is really no reason for it!
Without wanting to get ahead of myself, let me take you to the beginning.
The story centres around Anna and her family and follows them both in the present day as well as in the past via flashback and memories. These flashback moments were expected by me as this is what happens in the book, though I found to begin with they were a little off-putting as you didn't really realise what was occurring. One moment you are in the present day and then suddenly the storyline seemed to change. It even took me a few moments to realise what had happened with the first memory flashback and I knew it was coming. As the film progressed, though, these flashbacks became easier to follow and seemed to flow better with the main storyline of the present rather than popping out of nowhere. This is also helped on slightly by the voice over story-telling from each of the characters which help to explain not only what is happening but also the characters inner-most thoughts and feelings which is what the story as a whole relies on. It is all about their moral feelings and choices and by understanding their thoughts and seeing their history through each of their eyes we are able to empathise with all of the characters individually.
Another change which was frustrating for me, though did not really matter too much in the film as such, was the absence of a specific character as well as a pointless addition of a couple of characters. In the book, it is not only the family members who are involved to a huge degree in the main story line but also other characters in turn. I was disappointed to see the lesser character of the lawyer and his whole storyline both by himself and relationship with the family cut considerably. Within the film we barely get to know his character or background even though certain aspects from the book are kept in which make none or little sense without his background or the missing other character. Why cut a character out or down but still have parts from the book which end up making little sense?
Back to the storyline. The storyline is a very simple storyline to follow with some emotion from the characters. I was a little disappointed with the emotion in the film as with the book I found myself in floods of tears many times though the film just did not portray the power I would have expected from it. I felt that in order to put as much as possible in the film, they made it rushed and at times had a haphazard feel to it. From the view of someone who has never read the book I would imagine that on a whole the story line would seem to flow better than average though I felt at points I only felt some emotion and understanding due to my knowledge of the book. This is not the first time I have seen this in a film book adaptation and like the last time, it is the biggest thing in which put a downer on it for me. The biggest problem, though, was the ending and I will cover this a bit further down.
We all have our own imaginations which all differ when reading a book, though in the main I felt that they did portray the view of the place and characters really close to what I envisioned. It would have been difficult to be completely wrong in this scenario as most of the action takes place in scenes in which we know from our every day lives such as a house setting and a hospital setting. Even if a person had never set foot in a hospital they would know to a degree what it was like and this film portrays each setting perfectly.
So, the main part of the film did seem to follow the book well. Yes, it did have many small changes which annoyed me as a lover of the book though did not hurt the film storyline too much (with the exception of the lack of character of the lawyer). Without knowledge of the book, the film took on a decent understanding though the flow did seem to rush through some parts as well as throw scenes together haphazardly. I felt the emotion found in the book was minimal in the film and there was no real time to get to know the characters as I would have liked, though all of this I could take. Up until this point I was enjoying the film even though I was picking out all the negatives. The curse of reading the book first!
So what was so wrong about the ending?
Looking at the film from the point of view of a person who has not read the book, the ending was as you might have expected. The scenes which occurred were scenes in which I had thought were going to happen in the book, so in this aspect the ending was not too bad. They brought up the right amount of emotion and rounded everything off really well. In some ways it may have been better not to have read the book first though I certainly do not regret this. Though the problem when reading the book first, you expect certain things to happen and when they don't, you start to lose interest.
Why change something which is not broken?
The ending in the book was so powerful and shocking that it reduced me to tears and had me thinking about it for days after. The ending of the film was nothing like in the book. By this, I do not mean that they missed out certain bits or changed small scenes. What I mean is that they changed the whole ending completely and utterly. It was due to this that I was not able to feel the emotion that I believe it probably did portray to those who had not read the book. I was so disappointed. I do not understand why they changed the ending so dramatically. There was nothing wrong with the ending in the book - if anything, it was an amazingly powerful ending which portrayed a very important message about choices and morals. I even heard that the author of the book was not happy with the decision to change the ending. If I had known beforehand about the drastic ending change I don't think I would have bothered watching the film. It is the ending which made the book. Yes, it is still a realistic ending though to the book lovers, prepare to be disappointed. It is definitely more of a Hollywood-esque ending and this is not always a good thing.
For me, a film can be a great film though if the ending is poor then it ruins the whole thing and I come away feeling very disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the ending to this film is not terrible by any means though from the point of view of a person who loved the books, it rates very low.
This film adaptation, directed by Nick Cassavetes who also directed such films as Face/Off and Just Like Dad, and screenplay written by Jeremy Leven (The Notebook) and Nick Cassavetes, was based on the excellent novel by Jodi Picoult.
I have not really seen many films directed by or written by the said people and so did not have any real prior knowledge of their works.
The first think in which struck me when I saw the cast list was the few big named actors. My first thoughts were that of horror. Personally, I did not think that big names in a film such as this would work. The story worked by appealing to the emotions of every day people, and although actors are of course every day people, I felt well known faces may hinder what the story is trying to tell. This, I am glad to say, did not happen. Once I got used to the actors I forgot about their celebrity status as I found they did an adequate job in their roles.
There is a vast cast for this film though I will only discuss the important bigger roles otherwise I would be here all day and to be honest, the smaller roles really do not hold much in this film;
Abigail Breslin ... Andromeda 'Anna' Fitzgerald
Sofia Vassilieva ... Kate Fitzgerald
Cameron Diaz ... Sara Fitzgerald
Jason Patric ... Brian Fitzgerald
Evan Ellingson ... Jesse Fitzgerald
Alec Baldwin ... Campbell Alexander
Joan Cusack ... Judge De Salvo
Olivia Jade Fine ... Anna (Age 6)
Brennan Bailey ... Jesse Fitzgerald (Age 10)
Olivia Hancock ... Kate (Age 2)
Breslin comes from an acting family and this shows in her work not only in this film but in previous ones such as Signs. She takes on the role of Anna with both seriousness and slight humour which creates a well rounded, lovable character which drew my attention greatly. Her portrayal of her character was as powerful and emotional as I had come to expect and at no time did I think that they had made a bad choice in her casting. She brought the character from the book alive on the screen and her relationships with the others was very near to perfect. With this film and its memory flashbacks. It is important to match the characters of different ages well and although we do not see the younger Anna in as much detail as we do in the book, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did match them up to make it completely believable that they were the same person.
Vassilieva was amazing as Kate, and her acting alone bought tears to my eyes. Her portrayal of a terminally ill girl was so real that I had to remind myself that she was only acting. From her facial expressions all the way to her voice, her performance was flawless. Although the film lacked emotion in parts which the book was full of it, Vassilieva flowed with emotion and really helped carry this film. She may be a lesser known actor than diaz though she certainly out-shone her in this film.
Perhaps some people may think that I should have listed Diaz first in the cast list for her celebrity status, though I felt in this film the two young girls out-shone her. Diaz did play her role as the mother really well, though I felt she lacked in emotion and appearance in which the girls flourished in. Her relationships with the other characters were well portrayed, though.
Jason Patric was a surprising choice for the father and at first I did not take to him, though as the story unfolded, I felt as though Patric made the character his. He seemed very comfortable in his role and related to the others really well.
Ellingson is, in my opinion, not really given the chance to shine as the character is not as explored as in the book. Saying this, however, in the majority of scenes he was in, he played his part really well and had a great relationship with all other characters. Bailey, who played his younger counterpart, was again a perfect match and played his part as well as Ellingson.
Baldwin's character of the lawyer, again, I felt did not have the chance to shine as he should. Baldwin in a great actor though I felt his abilities were stunted in this film as the characters development was not there.
Cusack is not my favourite actor by far as I have always found her typecast or play the exact same character in every film Ive seen her in. To be honest, she tends to annoy me. When I first saw her as the Judge I could have cried as it certainly was not what I expected. In my minds eye, the judge was everything but Cusack though I have to admit after I got used to her she actually showed me that she has the abilities to be a different type of character and actually showed great strength and emotion in this role.
As I mentioned, there are many smaller characters, most of which are very small and insignificant. I noticed that a lot of these are not even credited in the film which shows how small a part they are. There are some smaller parts, though, which do stand out among the rest;
Heather Wahlquist plays Aunt Kelly and her part was certainly above average and had the ability to show a wide range of different emotions which is certainly needed in a film such as this. Jeffrey Markle and Emily Deschanel were perfect as the doctors and brought a high energy into their parts as well as apt emotions and screen presence. David Thornton was also great at his own doctors role though did come across as a little static at times.
Overall, the film has a very strong cast with some small minor flaws. I was not happy at first with the choices to put well known faces in this film as I felt it would be better being unknown actors as I thought more emotion on the subject would be better obtained this way, though to be honest, the film was actually not too bad and I think that the actors chosen helped with this to a great degree. If anything, the actors were on a higher class than the film itself.
The cast was perhaps the best part of the film for me. Most of them held a great strength both in their characterisations and their emotions and brought across the right power at the right times. I say this was the best part of the film because I was not overly impressed at the film itself, though please do remember that I have written this review from the point of view of someone who has both read and loved the book beforehand. I think that the film standing alone without knowledge of the book is actually quite good and the changes I have noted will not stand out as wrong to someone who has never read the book. This said, though, I do not think that the film is a first class film either way. As I have noted above, occasionally I found scenes rushed or set together in a haphazard way.
In comparison with the book, I felt it was a complete and utter let down. Too many things were changed when there was no real reason for the change and the drastic changing at the end just put the nail in the coffin so to speak. Why fix something which isn't broken and why oh why change an amazing ending? As mentioned before, the ending works in the film and is not a bad ending, but as it is a film attempting to follow the book then I feel no reason they should have changed things so dramatically and from a little research I have found that those who have read the book have been outraged by this.
I would recommend the film as it certainly was not a terrible film. Yes, it had its flaws, though I did enjoy watching it (until the ending!). Lovers of the book may feel as though they want to avoid this film though. I don't think Ill be watching it again due to this reason.
I'd read My Sister's Keeper a couple of years ago and when I saw that this was being made into a film I was torn about going to see it in the cinema as the story is pretty moving and I didn't want to spend my time bawling my eyes out in front of everyone! However I spotted that it was playing on Sky Movies premiere last week so decided to brave it last weekend.
The story is set in the USA and focuses on the Fitzgerald family. Kate Fitzgerald, the middle of three siblings is diagnosed with acute leukaemia. As her condition deteriorates her doctor comes up with a controversial idea. He suggests that Kate's parents conceive another child who would be genetically engineered to be a perfect match for Kate so that her umbilical cord could be used to help treat her. The parents go ahead and Anna Fitzgerald is born. Being the only member of the family that is perfectly compatible with Anna she ends up being used as a donor for any bodily substance that Anna requires.
There are heartbreaking scenes of Anna as a young child kicking and screaming as she is placed onto an operating table to have her bone marrow taken, but as she gets older and understands the situation, she is happy to oblige. The two sisters have a very close relationship, that is evident on the screen, which is touching to see. However, when Anna is aged 11, Kate's kidneys start to fail and Anna is told that she will have to donate one of her kidneys to save Kate. This would be major surgery for both of them and it is not guaranteed to work. There is a real chance that the surgery would kill Kate and Anna will be left with one working kidney, which would seriously impact the rest of her life. The rest of the story is told as a series of flashbacks which had the potential to be confusing but in this case worked quite well.
Anna seeks the advice of a lawyer to sue her parents for the rights to her own body. This is not a decision that she takes lightly and Anna is clearly torn between doing what her family, in particular her mother who is very headstrong, expect her to do and the right to make decisions herself. Anna's mother Sara, who herself is a lawyer puts pressure on Anna to drop the lawsuit and this divides the family. There are some intense scenes with Anna and her mother and I found myself sympathising with both sides, but more so with Anna, but this in no way is a clear-cut situation.
I thought the film really captured the effect the one siblings illness affected the whole family, but particularly Anna and her older brother Jesse. As her parents fight to keep Kate alive Jesse is the one who is really affected as he is ignored completely by his parents. Kate gets the attention because she is ill and Anna because she is the donor. There is one quite poignant scene where Jesse is out in the evening and misses the last bus home. He walks for miles and gets home in the early hours of the morning. As he walks into the kitchen he bumps into his father and is clearly expecting to be in serious trouble. However his father doesn't realise and just says that he is going to see Kate at the hospital and takes Jesse with him.
I found the story intensely moving and will freely admit that I was crying like a baby throughout! This is quite strange for me as I don't easily cry. The film dealt with some very complex issues and handled them sensitively without demonising anyone and I found myself sympathising with all sides. I did at times get angry at Sara though for putting the needs of Kate ahead of her other two children, but not for long as who knows what anyone of us would do if faced with such a situation. I wouldn't say that I really enjoyed the film, due to the sad nature of the story, but still thought it was well done and am glad I watched. I think it will be a while though before I will be reaching out for this again though!
Sara Fitzgerald: Cameron Diaz
Anna: Abigail Breslin
Brian Fitzgerald: Jason Patric
Kate Fitzgerald: Sofia Vassilieva
Jesse Fitzgerald: Evan Ellingson
Judge: Joan Cusack