Friday, November 27, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

I believe I've read some review about Nick Cassavetes' "My Sister's Keeper" comparing it to a Hallmark or Lifetime movie. I'm not entirely sure about if I've read it, but I would think that this is a good description. This is a film with an interesting idea, yet it's forgettable, due to the way it's shot (bright-lit but depressing nonetheless), structured (flashbacks bordering on ridiculousness), etc. You've read the book, by Jodi Picoult, or if not heard about the synopsis somehow: a girl (Sofia Vassillieva) gets cancer and her parents conceive a child exclusively to cater to her needs, giving her necessary parts to sustain her life.

The child (Abigail Breslin) feels like she's being taken advantage of and goes to sue for her freedom. Her mom (Cameron Diaz, who plays an interesting character who does things that are not fully explained), who we find is conveniently a lawyer (which makes it easier to battle against her intent daughter) has put everything aside to help her Kate (Vassillieva) stay alive like the mother in "Mother" trying to get her son to freedom. Maybe with stronger technical support, the film could be excellent, but it's not here. It's just like "The Time Traveler's Wife," not in subject, but in tone. It's another example of a Hallmark movie that shouldn't be: there's an interesting idea, but it's either not realized or perhaps it doesn't have enough in it to fuel a film (this is something I doubt). This is just your average medical drama, nothing more, just as heavy-handed as you would expect, (apparently) not wishing to go beyond that. Plus, it feels sort of misguided, especially with Kate as a character. We see her go through different phrases, the weirdest and most detached of which being a punk stage, where we see her briefly drinking and pill-popping. Why? It doesn't fit into the film, basically just a flashback conjured out of thin air to explain something, a task it fails to complete.

This is the sort of thing that's a common occurrence. We look backwards into family history, and it all seems to be terribly sentimental, as well as deeply depressing. That's an emotion I felt during "The Time Traveler's Wife," as well (a film I saw in glimpses on a plane, not avidly enough to review, but enough to capture the emotion of). I dunno. I really don't. Devout fans of the book will flock to see it, and there's no stopping them. But for those who stumble upon it: it didn't work for me. Consisting of clichéd moments and ambient and mediocre music, this is not a good movie. It's insufferable for all, but in different ways to different people. There are some interesting developments, as in most of these films, such as the influence of Judge de Salvo's (Joan Cusack) own traumatic experience on this one. That's one element that spun my mind. Plus, Diaz's character is interesting. Finally, Alec Baldwin's lawyer for Breslin's Anna is, as I believe others have said, persuasive and satisfying to watch. He's talented, which is well-known, but should be said. There's also Taylor (Thomas Dekker), also shown in flashbacks, who gives Kate a nice time as she begins treatment. But it's dealt with uninterestingly, though playing to those (IMDB posters I gather from) who praise it for being "realistic."

Fine, fine. But I wasn't totally stimulated, a phrase I could apply to many an aspect of this piece. I struggle to find something to say about it, other than to talk about the widely known fact of the re-scripted ending, which feels like it devalues the whole pursuit of the heroine, in favor of showing affection. Made me feel a little warmer, perhaps, that it was done all in good intent, but then again, conflict beyond a point would have been interesting (although turn-offing to many a viewer). As I said before, I'm not converting any lovers of the book. I'm just saying to those on the outside, seeking a choice for a film to watch, I'm not a supporter of this work, which is unfortunately not very interested in aesthetics and into everything else obsessively. Okay. Maybe I'm a little hard on it. But "My Sister's Keeper" fails to be of much stimulation, which I feel a good movie inspires. It's confused, and although I'm pretty negative about it, so am I. C


aspergiansarah said...

I might give this one a watch. However, I have been trying to prove to my dad that my general range of movie-going is not 'chick flick,' which they are not. This one definitely looks like one, but I do like Abagail Breslin. Have you seen her in "Zombieland" yet? It was a lot of fun.

Stephanie said...

Abigail Breslin is terrific, and it would be interesting to see Cameron Diaz in a more serious role. I read the book, and I don't love it, though the characters are interesting and the premise is thought provoking. I find Picoult's plots too contrived.