To Touch What Matters

Movie Title: My Sister's Keeper (2009)
 Spoilers: No

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My Sister's Keeper...could you ask for a more reverent title? The title is more reverent than the movie. It’s not biblical, but it does deal with a moral question—with a moral question that ideally shouldn't be a question.

The film was birthed from the fictional novel, “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. The plot seems a bit much to swallow, but only at first. Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) is suing to emancipate her own body from her parents’ use of her body like an old, beaten-up, parts truck in some salvage yard. Anna was conceived to save the life of Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), her older sister.

Kate has promyelocytic luekemia and she's dying. Against the odds, her parents keep hoping – groping – at every straw of hope that can be found. But Sara and Brian Fitzgerald (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) grabbed at one straw that wouldn't break...or bend. They had a daughter who was determined to live her own life, despite her being basically genetically bred to be the perfect donor.

As awful and debilitating as leukemia can be, the indignity with which Anna is treated is right near horrifying. It wasn’t intended to come off quite that way (there are many subtle concerns involved), but it did. If accused of harming their second-born, Anna’s parents would contend that they were just trying to save the life of their older daughter while still loving and offering the best for Anna. Anna would contend that her parents’ effort to save her older sister was depriving her of a life of her own.

What would have done the film a favor would have been to provide some sort of counter-antagonism to offset the unthinkable brute fact behind what transpires. As it is, you focus more on the emotional battles created by terminal illness and an inner-family lawsuit than on the borderline inhumane treatment of Anna Fitzgerald. It is extremely touching to see a movie where a cancer-stricken girl gets to see the beach one last time. That alone will make the lot of us reach for a box of Kleenex, and there's nothing wrong in saying so.

You might consider the plethora of polarizing views concerning this film, but don't neglect to consider that in My Sister’s Keeper, you have a deep storyline with some of the most well-defined characters, every one of them hitting close to home in their own way.

Alec Baldwin doesn't act. He plays a hotshot lawyer with as much of himself in the character as he would walk into any room and introduce himself. Baldwin is Campbell Alexander, hired by Anna to represent her against her mother, who also happens to be an accomplished attorney.

In My Sister's Keeper, you have a tearjerker of a story about life and death, about hope, about fate, about medical ethics, and about a legal battle over the rights of a child. While some would find the emotional girth to be too much, others have no desire to hide the fact that they can't cross the street without a Kleenex box in one hand and Dr. Phil in the other. There's nothing wrong in saying that either.

Some cry because they need something to cry about. Others cry because the crying of others helps them deal with their own past pains. Others will go all out to avoid sadness at every turn. To them, if only they can momentarily trick themselves into believing that death isn't real, then that is enough.

Experiencing a loss (even if its not our own loss) or failing health is a damaging thing to cope with, which is why I say that a movie which forces you to think and deal with a subject that many have no desire to discuss is worth being considered. Once you’ve seen it, then you’ve got to draw some moral lines. That makes a good movie. My Sister’s Keeper isn’t the greatest tear-tapper ever, but it doesn't have to be to touch what matters.

(JH)

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Grade: B+ (3 1/2 stars) Recommended!
Rated: PG-13
Summation: Anna Fitzgerald looks to earn medical emancipation from her parents who until now have relied on her to help their leukemia-stricken daughter Kate remain alive.
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Abigail Breslin “Andromeda 'Anna' Fitzgerald,” Walter Raney “Pawn Shop Proprietor,” Sofia Vassilieva “Kate Fitzgerald,” Cameron Diaz “Sara Fitzgerald,” Jason Patric “Brian Fitzgerald,” Evan Ellingson “Jesse Fitzgerald,” Alec Baldwin “Campbell Alexander”
Genre: Drama

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