Not having read Jodi Picoult's book, and going purely by the trailers, I had thought that MY SISTER'S KEEPER would be a provocative courtroom drama examining the moral and legal issues around "savior siblings" - that is, children conceived in order to provide perfect match organs to their cancer-ridden siblings. But MY SISTER'S KEEPER isn't actually interested in the legal dilemma but the simpler story of a family under extraordinary emotional pressure. Yes, the other siblings may be taken for granted by their parents, but it isn't really the issue of organ-harvesting but a wider issue of just spending time with them. And the movie isn't so much about the ethics of taking organs from children who cannot consent, but about coming to terms with the fact that people die and not all battles can be won. In other words, this is a Weepie rather than an intellectual film.
To the extent that this movie wasn't a courtroom drama, I was disappointed. And I was rather annoyed at the slippery way in which this aspect of the movie was derailed. But then again, how credible was a courtroom drama really going to be given that Cameron Diaz is cast as the aggressively pro-organ donation lawyer-mother - a role beyond her ability - and Alec Baldwin (a prisoner of his 30 ROCK persona) was cast as opposing council. Only Joan Cusack, as a grieving mother and presiding Judge, adds any emotional weight and credibility to those scenes.
So how did the resulting emotional drama hold up? I didn't like a lot of the stylistic choices - particularly the voice-overs from the different characters explaining their points of view. (Although this is apparently a feature of the book). I especially didn't like the happy-family sunlit montages set to schmaltzy music. Jason Patric as the passive father looked mostly bored. Cameron Diaz as the aggressive mother looked mostly hysterical. Aunt Kelly looked entirely redundant. Ignored younger brother Jesse just looked mopey and is it me, or is Abigail Breslin just acting the same in all her films.? I feel she is over-exposed. The only thing that saved the story was the luminous lead performance from Sofia Vassilieva as the cancer-ridden teen, the touching evocation of her first and only romance with a fellow patient, and the realistic portrayal of her illness. This girl is definitely one to watch. I also applaud the writer-director for creating an ending that is, apparently, more realistic than that in the original novel.
MY SISTER'S KEEPER is on release in the UK, USA, Canada and Mexico. It opens next week in Iceland and Greece. It opens on July 30th in Australia and New Zealand; on August 6th in Slovakia; on August 13th in Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan; on August 21st in Romania, on August 27th in the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria; on September 4th in Italy and Norway; on September August 9th in September; on September 17th in Portugal; on September 23rd in Belgium, Argentina, Brazil and Sweden; and on December 4th in Finland.