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My Sister's Keeper

Cameron Diaz in My Sister's Keeper

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

NICK Cassavetes’ My Sister’s Keeper begins with an 11-year-olf girl suing her parents to gain medical emancipation from them because she is tired of being a donor child for her leukaemia ravaged sister. If she wins, her sister will die.

Unfortunately, the provocative movie this promises is completely underwhelmed by some laboured, manipulative direction from the man who previously brought us The Notebook and John Q.

Cassavetes just doesn’t do subtle and rather than really exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas posed by the girl’s decision to sue her parents, or the family breakdown that ensues, his film is more interested in making you shed tears and ends up insulting our intelligence instead.

His cast is first-rate, though. Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric play the parents, while Abigail Breslin is the donor child who has been reared specially to save her sister, Sofia Vassilieva, from dying.

Alec Baldwin is the lawyer who takes up the case, while Joan Cusack is the judge who must preside.

But even with such a cast, My Sister’s Keeper – based on the provocative novel by Jodi Picoult, underwhelms and eventually grates.

Cassavetes opts for too many soft-rock montages of key family moments, while cheaply villifying Diaz’s mother. He even tosses in a soft-focus romance between Vassilieva’s leukaemia sufferer and a fellow patient that has tragedy marked all over it (even before the main tragedy occurs).

Diaz is hopelessly short-changed by scenes that render her more of a movie monster than a mother, while Patric is similarly one dimensional as the sympathetic father – the do good guy who even has to give up a job as a fireman to work with under-privileged kids.

The whole endeavour has an air of heavy-handed pretentiousness that makes the underlying tragedy of what’s unfolding on-screen, and its ensuing dilemmas, difficult to care about.

Vassilieva emerges as a talent to keep an eye on, while Baldwin and Cusack are typically good value despite limited screen-time, but in all other respects this is a tedious tear-jerker that totally squanders its interesting set-up.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 109mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 23, 2009