Diaz, Cassavetes Sparkle in Otherwise Melancholic ‘My Sister’s Keeper’

Sure, the world is depressing enough. You've got all of this shit happening-the protests in Iran, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson passing away, not to mention the economy-and in retrospect, My Sister's Keeper's depressing story isn't helping a certain amount. Although a look inside one singular problem can do wonders all around. When I read My Sister's Keeper, the narrative by Jodi Picoult (who's no stranger to the 'gloomy' category), I was blown away; the book was fantastic. The story alone is spectacular, but it also triggers the reader's personal demons. The family-Sara, Brian, Anna, Kate and Jesse-are all so relatable you could've sworn that they live just next-door. The squad that has the duty to portray the grief-stricken family is among the best: Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Jason Patric (In the Valley of Elah), Evan Ellingson (CSI: Miami, Letters from Iwo Jima) and Sofia Vassilieve (Medium). All great actors and actresses, but together just flat out not believable. I'd say unbelievable, but then you would get the wrong idea. Patric was emotionless, which is fine; that's how the father acted in the best-seller. On the other hand, in the movie, when emotions are required, Patric doesn't deliver. The same thing can be said of Breslin: stony-eyed and dizzy. She's come a long way from Little Miss Sunshine and has had hits like The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and Nim's Island since then, however don't go to Sister's Keeper seeking Ms. Breslin's return to Oscar-nomination roles. Ellingson, let's skip over (he sucked) and go straight to Cameron Diaz, the heart and soul of Nick Cassevetes' sorrower about a girl with leukemia. Diaz plays Sara, the worried mother of a disease-ridden Kate who'll go to ends of the Earth for her daughter (and she does). Diaz gives a vigorous performance and sparkles on an otherwise melancholic My Sister's Keeper. She might not be Oscar-worthy (although you never know, everything is changing for next year's celebration), but watch for some sort of gold star for the beautiful actress.

Another character in the story was Campbell Alexander, the lawyer for Anna. He was butchered by Alec Baldwin. I'm a huge Baldwin fan, I love his gig on 30 Rock, but every scene that he's in, he just doesn't capture the feeling that Picoult imagined in the book. Whenever and whatever dialogue is played off of him, he's quick to answer, and that's not how Campbell is originally. His seizure (yes, Baldwin has a seizure) is less than convincing, although heartbreaking all the same.

Nick Cassavetes is known for his sob-stories; he directed the 2004 romance The Notebook with Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. In addition, Cassavetes also condenses the 432 page work with Jeremy Leven, his writing partner on The Notebook. In the beginning of the movie, Anna narrates a bit on her thoughts of the world while we see some home videos of Kate, Anna and Jesse as kids, which gives the impression that Cassavetes will rock the rest of the flick. And he does just that. It was a smart move on his behalf to take on this project. From the courthouse scenes to rainy days in the hospital, this guy nails every detail. The theme throughout the film comes across as uplifting when the plot is upsetting and I adored that about it; a sunshine POV on a sad tale. Look for him to become the next Nicholas Sparks when it comes to ideas. Seriously, he is awesome.

Initially, each of the characters narrates their side on Kate's cancer battle, similar to the page-turner. It soon turns into one flat, dull attempt to make you cry. I'm sorry; I wanted to love it as much as the next guy, however it gets pretty sad. And not in the way that it's supposed to be. Cassavetes' story leaves out the whole subplot on Campbell Alexander and the ad litem's love interest, the endless reasons that Alexander brings his dog Judge everywhere he goes and the ending is different than the book! Throughout a generally bad movie, the ending will really leave you saying "are you bullshitting me?" If you haven't read Picoult's effortlessly brilliant book, you'll like it, but if you did don't bring a box of Kleenex.

2.5/5 stars.

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