There is a person who has a sibling who cannot grow any hair. So all her life, her mother shaves off her hair to make a wig for her sibling without ever consulting whether she likes it or not. As a child, she didn’t care because it was something she was expected to do so it became normal. However, things are different. She learns to treasure and fight for her opinions and thoughts. She wants the freedom of creating her own appearance. She wants to grow, dye, and curl her hair. She loves her sibling but she wants to love herself first. My Sister’s Keeper is similar to this situation, but this time, life and death are at stake. Although the movie has its lacking points, My Sister’s Keeper as a whole is a praiseworthy, heart-warming movie that uses effective pathos and storyline to trigger the audience’s emotions and teach them the importance of love, respect, and memories.
My Sister’s Keeper first came out as a book in 2004, which was written by the famous Jodi Picoult. About 14 million copies of her best-seller books have been printed and sold in America. Picoult is famous of writing novels about morally complex issues; for this novel, she focuses on genetic engineering and manipulation affecting a family. She not only introduce what a “designer baby” was, but she also dig into how one family was emotionally and physically affected by their “designer baby.” By doing this, Picoult allows her audience to challenge their personal assumptions about the topic.
Picoult spends more time researching about her topic than actually writing the book. She uses her time diligently by interviewing experts of her interested topic areas and spending time with those who have personally experienced the situation. For the book, she spent a majority of time with pediatric oncologists, who treat children with cancer. Moreover, she has personally experienced the situation which she brings out realism inside her book. She too has a five-year-old son who has had ten surgeries on his ear for tumor over the three years. Through this experience, she created Kate’s mother, Sara, as her own image of being a mother, who feel helpless knowing that they cannot do anything to save their child. Using her personally experience and research definitely strengthens her books, which makes them worthy of reading.
Because this book brought so much interest and tears to Picoult’s readers, Nick Cassavetes, the director of My Sister’s Keeper, who also directed The Notebook and John Q, made a movie out of the book in 2009. Although Picoult’s audience prefer the book over the movie, the movie has received a wide range of love and interested among the viewers.
My Sister’s Keeper, the movie, is about a thirteen-year-old girl named Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin), who was born intentionally as a “designer baby” to save her sixteen-year-old sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), who has a leukemia. In other words, Anna was born to be a donor for her sister. Anna has been donating genetic materials to Kate all her life without any consultations with Anna. However, when it came to donating her kidney, Anna takes action and sues her parents for not allowing her to have the rights over her own body, which shocks her family. With the help of an attorney, Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin), Anna wins the lawsuit which means that she doesn’t have to donate. On the other hand, her mother, Sara (Cameron Diaz), is enraged and cannot accept that Anna is standing up to her rights and declining to save her own sister at the most essential part of Kate’s life. Additionally, that means that Anna’s reason of being born is useless. Although Anna’s dad, Brian (Jason Patric) have mixed feelings about Anna’s action, Sara does not know when to give up fighting against her own daughter, Anna, to save Kate. The question is, “Who is ready and responsible for Kate’s death?”
There are few disconcerting points that distracted me from fully enjoying and following along with the movie. First of all, I did not appreciate Nick Cassavetes’s directing style in which he excessively alternates the flashback scenes and the present scenes to the point where it’s too perplexing to tell the difference. Cassavetes tries too hard to show all the past memories and each individual character’s stories through flashbacks that the movie becomes inconsistent and disorganized. It was difficult to keep up with the movie because it kept going back and forth from present to past. It looks to me that he himself got the present and past confused because there was a scene where Sara shaved her hair off for Kate but the scenes after that, she is never shown bald.
Secondly, it has too much extra scenes that only confuses the audience. I could see that Cassavetes wanted to add a sense of realism by replacing common issues, such as teen suicide, sex, and epilepsy. However, some of the scenes he added were unnecessary. For example, I personally did not understand why Cassavetes showed a scene of Anna’s brother, Jesse (Evan Ellingson), out on the streets where he amuses himself by watching women wearing provocative clothes pass by. I had a hard time following along and trying to connect all the scenes together.
Lastly, I was disappointed because my expectation of this movie was too high. My friend who watched the movie praised it too much and cautioned me that I will need tissues by my side. I had only shed tears once from all the movies I saw, and my friend compared the two movies saying that they are equally sad. So I was ready to shed some tears, but I was disappointed because it did not deeply trigger my emotions.
On the other hand, I do recommend this movie for everyone to watch because the storyline is very touching and earnest and Sofia Vassilieva does a fantastic job of delivering her emotions to the audience. Firstly, the storyline and the flashbacks trigger the audience’s emotions and thoughts and gets them to observe. The storyline cherishes the importance of respecting each other’s values, loving each other, and valuing the memories spent together. Cassavetes also values realism, which the audience can appreciate and relate to. Additionally, he does an amazing job of capturing memorable scenes, such as the beach scene. He values the power of only using music and visual effects, which he uses at the beach scene. Even without having the characters talk, he expresses the precious moment the family shares at the beach through the characters’ cheerful actions and expressions, melodic music, and visual images of the beautiful beach. Moreover, Sofia Vassilieva does an astounding job of executing as Kate. She has the most significant, influential, and challenging role in the movie and she nails it. She lightens up the screen with her impressive acting skills which the audience fall into. Her ability of feeding the audience the emotions she expresses in each scene is extraordinary. She is one of the actors that makes the movie worthy of viewing. Overall, the beauty of this movie is fully expressed by Cassavetes and Vassilieva.
Although there are some plot holes, Cassavetes successfully delivers the theme and purpose of the movie to his audience. The movie constitutes a variety of aspects and emotions the audience can relate to and observe. The Sister’s Keeper is a worth-while movie because it has a beautiful storyline from which people can learn the importance of love, respect, and memories within the family.
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