I found My Sister’s Keeper in the DVD rental place near my house, going for 50p because no one was renting it. I bought it and watched it with my friend, and we both found it really sad… in fact we were crying by the end, but we both also agreed that it was amazing!
Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) believes that she was put on the earth to save her sister. Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) her older sister, suffers from acute promyelocytic leukemia. She was diagnosed when she was very young, and her parents were told by the doctors that the only way they could save their beloved daughter is genetically conceive another daughter who will be able to be ‘spare parts’ to Kate. Anna had to have operations from when she was a baby, and the newest one means that she can’t play sport, be a cheerleader or have children- she has to donate a kidney to Kate because her own have failed.
The film is told from different points of view, using their interior monologue to tell the story. Anna’s is the most frequently used, but the switch is good because you can see that there’s more than one thing going on in the family, not just Kate’s illness. Anna’s parents push her to her limits. Anna knows that they love Kate more, but there’s something she’s not telling them. When she tries to refuse to donate her kidney to Kate, her parents are horrible to her. They don’t know that there’s a reason behind her doing so which is not for her benefit, which is for Kate’s. Anna tells her parents that she doesn’t want to do it because she deserves the rights to her own body and employs a lawyer to sue them for medical emancipation. The lawyer is very famous and Anna can’t pay him nearly enough to make it worthwhile for him, but he takes the case on for personal reasons, which you find out near the end.
Anna’s mother Sara (Cameron Diaz) is barely a person without her obsessive pushing to help her daughter Kate. She has given up work as a lawyer- her whole life revolves around Kate, and she doesn’t have room in her schedule for Anna or Jesse, Anna and Kate’s dyslexic brother, who needs more help than Kate, who has every relative and doctor fighting to save her. The film is full of flashbacks, which confused me quite a lot because there isn’t any kind of dreaminess or thoughtfulness to them so you can’t really tell what is a flashback and what isn’t. One of the flashbacks shows Kate in a relationship with Taylor Ambrose (Thomas Dekker), another cancer victim. He helps her through radiotherapy and you see how he makes her happy and makes her forget her illness.
You don’t see how on earth Kate can get through her illness. The court case reveals many things about the family and the characters and about Kate. This isn’t a spoiler because you can tell right from the beginning of the film, but right at the very end Kate dies. It’s incredibly moving and well-done, because there isn’t a huge funeral or dramatic lead up to it- she just dies, like people actually die. They have no serenade and usually no one around to watch their last breath. That’s what made it so sad- the fact that it was so realistic. The family’s lives continue and all of them get jobs and start moving on. You can tell that they’re never going to get over Kate’s death, but they don’t deny it and, just like she told them to, they start living their own lives, not just hers.
I really liked this film. The terminal illness theme was really sad, because by the time Kate dies you feel as though you really know her. It felt like actually watching someone die, and the good acting makes it more realistic but much, much more sad. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s point of view and looking back at Anna’s memories. I would really like to see how the book compares and whether it’s any better.
Estimated watching age: Twelve and up
Price on Amazon: £3.64 for normal DVD, £6.75 for Blu-Ray
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Names of the people who play the main characters: Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz, Sofia Vassilieva