Directed by Nick Cassavetes
My Sister’s Keeper
I came to cry at “My Sister’s Keeper,” but found I couldn’t cry at this film that’s been called ‘a weepie.’ Instead I watched an amazing performance by Abigail Breslin, a child actor who’s now 14, holding the picture together in the face of an over-the-top performance by Cameron Diaz. Written from the novel by Jodi Picoult by director Nick Cassavetes and Jeremy Leven, this is the story of a younger sibling who’s been genetically engineered – in a test tube -- by her parents to provide all the therapy her older sister, Kate, needs as she fights for her life against leukemia. Breslin, who plays Anna, has had stem cells taken from her, along with bone marrow and blood elements of every kind. And now Kate needs a kidney to survive, which can only come from Anna, who is of course the perfect match, and Breslin calls ‘enough.’ She finds herself a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) and institutes a suit to be medically emancipated from her parents.
What’s just as interesting is the casting of Kate, the sister with leukemia. She’s played by Sofia Vassilieva, who comes from television and plays the dying girl with understated emotion, yet with enough courage to know just who she is and what will be the outcome. She and another cancer patient, Taylor (Thomas Dekker), find a way to satisfy both their longings for attachment and their longings for sex. Both girls act as counterweights to Diaz’s hysterical performance. There are also two brothers, underwritten so we know they’re not going to play much of a role in the drama; they’re there to fill out the family. Jason Patric, a fire-fighter, is the father, who lets Diaz get away with more and more hysterical moments. She was an attorney who gave up her practice to take care of Kate, and now she has nothing left for Anna nor for her other children.
Alec Baldwin as Anna’s lawyer (should I ask where she got the $700 to pay him with?) is perfect in his role; he’s one of the lawyers who has a full-page ad in the telephone directory and has his picture up on billboards throughout the L.A. area, and mysteriously he has what he calls a service dog, a border collie, but we don’t know why until the revelation comes late in the film of just what illness he has.
In other words, Nick Cassavetes has directed “My Sister’s Keeper,” a film that deals with different generations and death, and requires a great director to pull off. I didn’t care for “The Notebook,” which I thought too manipulative for words, and in spite of great performances by Breslin and Vassilieva this is manipulation at its worst.