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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Review: My Sister's Keeper, dir Nick Cassavetes (2009)

What looked to be a chick flic turned out to be a highly entertaining movie. I'd exhausted all the guy movies in the new releases section and settled on this one as a next-best option. Little could I anticipate how fantastic it would turn out to be.

It didn't have an entirely auspicious start, either. The husband is a fire-fighter, for a start. Here's the classic good guy, I thought, the real he-man with big, strong, warm arms and a job absolutely above reproach: the thinking woman's beefcake casting decision.

But this turns out to be just part of the film's infrastructure. An incidental element in a complex structure.

Kate Fitzgerald (Sofia Vassilieva) has leukemia, a form of blood cancer. Parents Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian (Jason Patrick) decide to engineer a new child so that it can provide body elements - blood, bone marrow, a kidney - to their sick daughter. They feel entitled to do this and certain there will be no problems in future.

They find out how wrong this assumption is when younger daughter Anna (Abigail Breslin) decides to sue her parents for her own biological independence. With $700 in her pocket, Anna visits well-known lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) to start the ball rolling. Needless to say, the act renders her mum and dad speechless.

Sara, a lawyer herself, shifts into fight mode, fronting Judge De Salvo (Joan Cusack) and challenging the action.

But the family continues to live their life. Anna stays at home. She loves her sister, whose condition is deteriorating. But the film gives more than just this one story line. Flashbacks furnish us with additional detail, as when Kate finds a boyfriend in fellow cancer sufferer Taylor Ambrose (Thomas Dekker). Their romance is special, and adds poignancy to the denouement.

I won't spoil this for readers. It's fantastic, and is ushered in by dyslexic brother, Jesse (Evan Ellingsen), during one of the fiery courtroom skirmishes between a recalcitrant Kate and a fuming Sara.

The film is definitely one for the archives. It is based on the novel by well-known author Jodi Picoult.

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