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Thursday, May 26, 2022

My Sister’s Keeper

Loosely based on the real story of a designer kid borne to save her sister,the film is ultimately about family,about the lots it can survive,about the lot it takes,and about the little things it needs.

Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi |
September 12, 2009 11:06:35 pm

DIRECTOR: Nick Cassavetes

CAST: Cameron Diaz,Jason Patric,Abigail Breslin,Sofia Vassilieva,Alec Baldwin,Joan Cusack

rating: ****

If there is a pain greater than the pain of losing a child,it is perhaps living with the knowledge that,irrespective of what you do,that child will die. The low-key,unheralded My Sister’s Keeper explores the pain of one such mother,the suffering of one such child and,in a touching departure,the travails of one such family.

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In one of her best roles,Diaz plays Sara Fitzgerald,who determines from the moment she comes to know that her daughter Kate is suffering from leukaemia,that she won’t let her die. It doesn’t take a minute for her to accept even the option of producing a genetically engineered child,who can be the perfect bone marrow donor match for Kate. As the film goes on and Kate’s condition worsens,it is clear that Sara is going too far in her desperate refusal to accept the inevitable. But as Sara’s sister says: “I realise that you can’t give up. What would you be if you were not the crazy bitch fighting for her child to stay alive?… But perhaps you are missing the big picture.”

Then there is Anna,the “donor” child,who has been put through several painful procedures since she was a newborn to save Kate. With a kidney donation up ahead,Anna decides that she’s had enough,and hires a celebrity lawyer to get “medical emancipation” from her parents. Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine),who has an unusual grown-up serenity about her,is determined as Anna in her resolve to “decide what she wants to do with my body” but never leaves us in any doubt about her love for Kate.

And then there is Kate herself,played by Vassilieva. She shaved her head and brows for the role,in her words to experience “some of the pain Kate feels”,and on screen,she lets it all flow. Kate goes through anger,happiness,even a touching romance and love,and acceptance from largely a hospital bed. Cassavetes never turns the camera away as she withers away. However,if Vassilieva’s eyes paint a picture of pain,her smile is a story of content,of a life well-loved.

The fourth,a little-ignored angle to the story are the father and brother,who while inextricably caught up in it,find themselves out of this circle.

At the end of the day,while the film may be telling it through one extreme scenario and unapologetically going for the handkerchiefs—that’s really at the heart of My Sister’s Keeper. Loosely based on the real story of a designer kid borne to save her sister,the film is ultimately about family,about the lots it can survive,about the lot it takes,and about the little things it needs.

shalini.langer@expressindia.com

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