Nick Cassavetes’ three-hankie weepy lurches during its music-video sequences and gratuitous voice-over narration from members of the Fitzgerald family as they struggle with their terminally ill daughter Kate (well played by Sofia Vassilieva). Yet, in spite of some of its less-than-elegant editorial decisions, My Sister's Keeper is full of terrific performances.
Parents Sara (Cameron Diaz in the best performance of her career to date) and Brian (played by the ever-dependable Jason Patric) made an ethically challenging decision when they chose to conceive a second daughter, Anna (Abigail Breslin), as a genetically engineered resource to physically help keep leukemia-stricken Kate alive.
At 11, Anna decides that she wants to be legally exonerated from her bodily responsibilities to Kate and seeks medical emancipation with the aid of Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin), a successful ambulance-chasing attorney. A court battle, overseen by an especially perceptive Judge De Salvo (Joan Cusack), looms while Kate pursues romance with a cancer-suffering patient named Taylor (Thomas Dekker). The crux of the drama comes down to Sara’s ability as a mother to see beyond her involuntary urge to fight like a martyr for the life of a daughter whose pain and suffering must eventually come to an end.
My Sister's Keeper manages to encompass the complexities of a disjointed family acting with best intentions in a medical calamity that necessarily involves a battery of outside influences. If only Cassavetes could have trusted the film enough to leave out the distancing montage music sequences and beside-the-point narration, he could have approached a perfect drama. Grade: B
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