My Sister’s Keeper The movie “My Sister’s Keeper,” is based on the best-selling novel by Jodi Picoult; it explores the medical, legal, and ethical issues that pose a dilemma not revealed until the very end of the movie. The director, Nick Cassavetes, plays out an honest story that overwhelms his audience with waves of emotion by illustrating the daily battles of a young, genuine, and sincere cancer patient. Although an unfamiliar story to most, Mr. Cassavetes is able to grasp a sense of realism in the process of telling such a heartfelt and unfortunate life story of this cancer patient, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva).
In short, Cassavetes tells a story that entails a family distorted by the leukemia of their first born daughter, Kate, whose disease was diagnosed when she was a toddler and has been constantly hospitalized since birth. To save her life her parents, Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian (Jason Patric), conceived another daughter to act as Kate’s donor, Anna (Abigail Breslin). Anna was genetically engineered for whenever Kate needed blood, bone marrow, and eventually a kidney. It presents many ethical dilemmas when this couple chooses to genetically engineer a baby for the sole purpose to take from one child to give to another.
Anna Fitzgerald slowly begins to wonder about her place in the world and questions her ongoing donations in order to save her sister’s life. Anna clearly explains she feels that her existence is defined by her ability to save her sister. While the audience goes on a journey with the Fitzgerald family we find Kate is able experience normal life occurrences such as having a boyfriend although in different ways, her disease is a disease among the family as a whole, and that maybe sometimes letting go is better. “Most babies are accidents. Not me.
I was engineered, born to save my sister’s life,” were the exact words spoken by Anna Fitzgerald in the very beginning of the movie. Anna is an 11-year-old girl who was conceived in vitro as a genetic match for her leukemia-stricken older sister, Kate. This fact is reiterated throughout the movie over and over again in order to illustrate the main point that Anna’s purpose in life is to save her sister. Whenever a part of Kate’s body fails, Anna’s parents immediately offer up the needed part of Anna’s body for donation. The focus seems to all be on Kate but the family forgets to consider Anna’s feelings.
It does not occur to them, specifically the mother, Sara, that Anna, too, is unable to lead a normal life. Anna must always “be there” for her sister but Sara is so blinded by having to do anything in order to keep Kate alive she does not realize how far under the bus she has thrown Anna. The peak of this snowballing conflict is when Kate turns fifteen and one of her kidneys fail. This time, however, Anna is unwilling to donate her kidney. The technique producer’s sometimes use is havignt he character reveal a thought along with a scene but nothing is really being said.
This technique reveals information to the audience without interfering with the plot of the story; a way of foreshadowing. “Has Anna been pushed too far without having say to the rights of her own body? Has her family neglected she has been in and out of the hospital even at times getting sick from birth giving away blood and marrow to her sister. ” This is the backdrop question when Anna goes to attorney, Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin), to sue her parents for “medical emancipation,” or the rights to her own body. This is the battle of the entire movie, is saving Kate’s life at the expense of Anna’s worth it?
In the midst of Kate’s disease, we witness other experiences Kate goes through such as romance and heartache. Kate is portrayed as one of the most sweet kids, trying to be as normal as she could grasp. One day when Kate takes a visit to the hospital she meets another leukemic patient who becomes her first boyfriend, Taylor (Thomas Dekker). Kate is relative to any other upcoming teen that has an eager desire to be pretty, go to the beach, and love. She falls deeper in love with Taylor as they experience similar daily struggles and care for each other each step of the way.
They kiss, love, and one night after going to the hospital’s dance they put on for the patients, they take their love a little further and sneak into a room. Over the next couple of days Kate is under the impression Taylor is ignoring her because he does not answer his phone; she comes to find it is because he has died. Kate is absolutely heartbroken and the following scene shows Kate with dark makeup on, drinking with loud music, and as Anna walks in she sees Kate trying to kill herself by overdosing on her pills.
These are the familiar emotional experiences teenagers can directly relate to while parents or friends who have seen their kids or friends could understand the situation as well. This is just another instance where it seems clear the directed audience may be general but more so specific to families, their children, and teenagers. The various parallels between family struggles, staying strong, falling in love, and being heartbroken were all what Kate was about and this kind of audience would be most sympathetic. It comes time for the verdict of the court case where Anna is trying to sue her parent’s.
The underlying secret is exposed that has been kept from the audience throughout the whole movie. During the court hearing, Anna and Kate’s older brother, Jesse (Evan Ellingson), reveals that Anna is only trying to sue her parents because Kate told her to. Kate didn’t want to battle her disease anymore and knew Anna suing her parents would be the only way to make her mom let go; without choice. Before the case is settled, Kate dies in her sleep at the hospital with her mother by her side. After Kate’s death, Campbell brings the court decision: Anna won the case.
The genre of this movie is drama but I felt compelled in a different category: romance. This is because this movie touched me in the same way romance novels and romantic movies do. With the strategic choice of soothing songs such as Don’t Wanna Cry by Pete Yorn, Feels Like Home by Edwina Hayes, and Carry You Home by James Blunt, the emotions felt throughout the movie were at an all time height. The music is calm and comforting. The slow melody and sweet voices of the artists enhance the level of emotion being felt at each climax of the movie.
One’s heart cannot help but break inside seeing the pain the Fitzgerald family goes through. Something as simple as the mellow golden hues of the picture, I noticed, helped illustrate the mood of the movie. With the story, musical soundtrack, and warm colored picture; you bet the director was able to keep me crying just about the whole movie. The tears arrive on cue and Mr. Cassavetes was able to select the perfect cast that embodied an authentic adolescent, caring mother, supportive father, troubled brother, and innocent sister; all fighting an illness that took over not just Kate, but her whole family.
Although an amazing and touching movie, the ending disappointed me in the sense of what it should’ve achieved; Kate being a hero. I felt myself enlightened throughout the whole movie, being thankful for the small things in my own life such as my health that others, such as Kate, have no concept of. But at the end of the film while I awaited a happy ending that would place Kate on a pedestal for her courage and pure soul, instead, Kate simply died. Despite this, the movie left its audience with tissue boxes soaked with tears and never will I be able to go through a sitting of this movie without crying over it all over again.