My Sister’s Keeper – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

sisterMy Sister’s Keeper – 3.5/5 – Heart felt, and sometimes charming, films that incorporate anything about real life as the main point will hit you at your core.  In films about real life situations, they try to take one aspect of life (in general) and make it the center piece of the ‘down to earth’ aspect of the overall experience.  Recently, there has been one theme that has been used more prevalent lately.  The one theme that has been used recently is the one that revolves around dealing with some kind of illness.  In ‘My Sister’s Keeper’, we have someone dealing with the illness of cancer, and how it affects the family.  Through some clunky dialogue, misfired direction, and general engrossing elements, you get a film that will slightly move you, but never reach the pinnacle of a true sentimental film.

Premise:  An eleven year old Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) seeks the successful lawyer, Campbell Alexander (Alex Baldwin) so that she can earn medical emancipation from her mother Sara (Cameron Diaz).  Her mother wants Anna to donate her kidney to her sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva).  During the movie, we learn that Kate has leukemia; Anna was conceived by in vitro fertilization; and how the rest of the family experiences all of these aspects differently.  Along the way, you learn the truth in Anna’s quest, as well as the real power of family, love and what life really means to all.

This will be a first for me.  In all the reviews I have done, there have always been a standout character(s).    In this movie, we don’t have one.  The irony in this revelation is that it doesn’t matter, because each individual character provides a whole aspect to define the term, family.  In the main leads we have the mother Sara (Cameron Diaz) the youngest daughter, Anna (Abigail Breslin) and the older sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva).  When it comes to define as one whole character, they all play there parts well.  Through individual narration, as well as back stories, we witness a complexion of characterization unlike most films I have seen.  Each one of these women adds a different purpose to the story, making the layering intuitive and multipart.  When you first see them on screen, it seems as if they’re going to be one dimensional.  As the movie progresses, you witness there depth when they interact with each other through a slick but honest dialogue.  The stark contrast in their ideas, feelings and purpose of  the ‘cancer’ makes them one character, as defined in the idea of ‘family’.  When it comes to the secondary cast, the comparative value is good, but less prevalent.  You have the father, Brian (Jason Patric) the brother, Jesse (Evan Ellingson) and of course the lawyer fighting for Anna, Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin).  These guys provide some inclusion to the story and the idea of ‘family’, through narration as well, but don’t seem to connect to the core of the overall family feel.  Even in the subtlety, they do provide elements that give you a sincere feel.  As the lawyer, Alec Baldwin does a good job in not letting his ‘star power’ overrule the movie, but just his presence throws off the family aspect at times.

Within the direction of this film, we have a fragmentation in storytelling.  In the first half, we are introduced to all the main players through narration.  This causes disconnection in the atmosphere of the story, as well as the characters and the themes and aspect surrounding cancer.  The movie jumps back and forth between characters, causing no linear narrative, making the audience not attach fully to the ‘down to earth’ film aspect as it should.  Once Kate’s illness starts to take full effect, the narration slows to the main three, and you start to get a single focus on the ideas of cancer and its effect on the family.  This approach fairs way better to the general aspect of the story and its progression.  Through this approach, you have an authentic feel, and become more aware of how real this disease is; not only for the patient, but all the family and friends involved.   Through a mix of ballad inclusion from the score, and smart dialogue, you start to feel the predictable elements take effect, and know the end is coming.  Once the climax hits, and everything progress in an expected fashion, you feel the heart of the film, but not as much as it could have been.

The visuals are not a strong point in this film.  With the focus mostly on story, family and the illness, you have your general aspect of ‘real life’.  This aspect is brought through the home, city, as well as flash backs and hospital.  The score is only important at certain points in the film (as mentioned above).  When the narration goes through flashbacks or hits key moments in the movie, you witness the score take its real affect.  It molds the situation, adding an emotional tone.  The depth/feel added makes you feel the connection between the backstory to the present, and the climax as a whole.

Overall, My Sister’s Keeper is a good, down to earth film.  It shows you an aspect of how a certain illness can affect a family in different fashions.  You have good acting within a well thought out story.  The movie fails in general execution, as well as developing a real attachment to characters.  I would recommend this to fans of real life films, and any movie buff in general.  It’s a good film to rent for a Friday night.

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