Idol Chatter

mysisterskeeper+.jpgAll movies based on successful novels are going to suffer by comparison with the book for those that have an attachment to the book. Jodi Picoult’s bestseller “My Sister’s Keeper” was a deeply moving, thought-provoking novel that touched women, in particular, of all ages. It certainly is Picoult’s best novel in my opinion, so when I saw the trailer for the movie adaptation, I couldn’t help but cringe a little. Cameron Diaz as the mom? Cutsey Abigail Breslin as the younger daughter? Despite such misgivings, I did my best to keep an open mind as I went to a preview of the movie.
The story centers around a tough subject to tackle– the idea of creating life for organ donation to save another–and while the movie does have some heart-wrenching moments, it never fully delivers the dramatic impact that it could.

Anna (Abigail Breslin) is a seemingly average 11-year-old except for the fact that, as the audience learns early on, Anna was conceived with a special purpose: she is to be the bone marrow and organ donor for her older sister Kate, who has leukemia. Anna has for most of her childhood resigned herself to the role of sacrificial lamb for the sister she loves, but finally she comes to a breaking point and sues for the rights to her body and for the rights to make her own medical decisions about her body. Family members are set against each other in court as a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) takes Anna’s controversial case, even as her sister remains in the hospital in precarious health.
I won’t give the ending away, even though the movie can really only have one logical ending considering the set of circumstances posed at the beginning. But I don’t think the predictability of the end of the story is the biggest problem. Try as they might, the cast doesn’t quite rise to the material. Diaz is more convincing as the fiery Sara than I anticipated, but Breslin is not the feisty Anna of the novel, and she does not create the connection needed with her older sister. And while the movie does not make caricatures of the people on either side of the issue, neither does the movie shed any real insight or plumb any depths when it comes to the bioethics involved here, either.
Those who go in to this movie free of the experience of the novel will find much more to like than those who were fans of the book. But even though I knew what was coming, I admit I needed a Kleenex once or twice, as the film occasionally sucked me in. “My Sister’s Keeper” is more sad than uplifting, more average than not, but in the midst of movie choices with action figures or drunken young men on a binge, this movie may find a audience as it opens this weekend with people looking for something a little more thoughtful.
Watch the trailer to “My Sister’s Keeper” on Beliefnet.

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