Sunday, November 01, 2009

My Sister’s Keeper

MDH and I decided to spend the Diwali weekend in Mumbai. Not for celebrations but just to be with our respective moms. My mum was coping with the loss of her mother 3 weeks back and MDH’s mother had undergone a laser operation for her Varicose veins treatment.

So this time around I decided to not call anyone – friends and relatives and just spend the time with mumma and my mom-in-law.

On my way to Mumbai I watched the movie ‘My Sister’s Keeper’. I wanted to see this movie ever since it was released but somehow did not get the chance to see it. I knew the plot and was in two minds if I needed to see a movie about death when all I wanted to do was take that very word out of my mind.

My Sister’s Keeper is the story about the Fitzgerald family – Brian & Sara and their 3 kids – Jesse, Kate and Anna. Kate is diagnosed with ‘Acute promyelocytic leukaemia’ (Cancer of the blood and bone marrow) at a tender age of 3. None of the family members are a match and she needs a constant supply of blood cells and bone marrow. Anna is then conceived through in-vitro fertilization to be a perfect genetic match as Kate’s donor all her life.

Kate is 15 and Anna is 11 when Kate experiences renal failure and is critical. Anna now needs to donate her kidney to Kate. However she heads straight to the famous lawyer Campbell (Alec Baldwin) to file a suit against her parents seeking emancipation of her own body. Sara is distraught and cannot understand Anna’s behaviour.

As the film moves ahead it shows how Sara quit everything - her job as a lawyer and being a mother to her other 2 kids - to shower her entire attention on getting Kate to be better. Many a times Brian tries to tell her but she has turned a deaf ear to one and all and refuses to accept that Kate’s is a terminal case and that she will die sooner or later.

Blinded by her love for the cancer-stricken Kate, she turns a blind eye to her son Jesse who is dyslexic and needs his parents too, and also to Anna – who despite being the perfect girl, feels used and brought in only for a purpose that is to save Kate.

The three kids however share a lovely bond with each other despite the obvious biases of their mother. Anna and Kate discuss all things under the sun including Kate’s first kiss with her boyfriend Taylor whom she meets at cancer clinic, Kate’s insecurities on never being able to look pretty again, and on not being able to lead a normal life.

Even when she is not allowed to step out of the hospital, Brian, Anna and Jesse sneak Kate out for one last family outing at the beach, which is Kate’s favourite place. Sara resists but joins in later.

Anna stands stoic through all of Kate’s pains and never leaves her sister’s side even once. It is this very fact that plants a doubt in the viewer’s mind as to why would this loving sis not sacrifice unless her sister does not want her to.

Brian understands Anna’s predicament while Sara dawns her lawyer shoes to defend the case. Anna pleads for a normal life which she will not be able to enjoy if she gives up her kidney and there is no assurance that Kate will survive too. However, it is Jesse who finally breaks down while Anna continues to be strong. Jesse gives away in the courtroom about Kate’s wish which has everybody in a shock, especially Sara.

Sara realizes that she is the only one who is not ready to let Kate go whereas Brian, Anna and Jesse are ready; for they know that Kate will be at peace, and that is what matters to them most. They have accepted but Sara has not; although Kate had tried telling her in many ways before as Brian points out.

Kate finally lets go. In her memory, the Fitzgerald family meets every year at the same beach on her birthday.

The movie is brilliant – it touches the right chord, it does not glorify Kate’s illness, it does not get melodramatic, the plot, the acting is subtle just as it would happen in our daily lives. The dialogues are simple and touch your heart especially the ones between Anna and Kate & Brian and Kate.

Abigail Breslin steals the show. She is my favourite child-star along with Dakota Fanning and Anna Paquin (Both are no longer child-stars). She is a natural in front of camera. And if you want to see more of her do catch ‘Raising Helen’, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and ‘Definitely Maybe’. She is a delight to watch and the innocence she oozes in her performances is addictive.

Cameron Diaz delivers a stellar performance but having read the review she got I still feel that Kate and Anna overshadow her completely. When the movie ends what stays with you are their heartfelt performances more than Sara’s outbursts.

Why I liked My Sister’s Keeper a lot is probably cause of the state of my mind then. I too was trying to cope up with the death of a beloved and struggling to help my mother get out of it.

My Sister’s Keeper tells us to first make peace with ourselves and then make a choice with our life. Not everyone is going to be happy with the choices we make but they will accept it sooner or later and see the reason behind it. Sara finally saw that Kate wanted to be free, and make Sara free to love Anna and Jesse who had been ignored due to Kate’s illness.

The movie is all about love – between sisters, between a mother and daughter, between a husband and wife – the one bond – the love that binds a family together!

P.S: The soundtrack is delightful and reminds you of the one from My Best Friend’s Wedding where every song was apt to the scene and melodious to the hilt!


Vivek Rao said...

Hey, nice review. Will just have to see the movie after reading this. Abigail was lovely in 'little miss sunshine'.

So you like 'my best friends wedding' as well? I loved all the songs, especially 'say a little prayer for you' and the way it is picturised, with all family members joining in one by one. :-)

So you probably also like 'love actually' and 'the holiday'...

Solilo said...

Nice review and just like the movie, your writing too made me misty eyed.

Do read 'Still Alice'.

Minal said...

@vivek: You know what everytime I went to the video shop guy to get those two movies they were rented out! Yeah I think now I need to dwld them!!! My favourite from best friend's movie is - I'll be okay. I just identified with that song then and it continues to remain my favourite!

@solilo: Welcome:-) Thanks for the lovely comment and yup will get hold of the book you mentioned!

Sands said...

I had to read to read the book before I could watch the movie. Just got done with the book a little while back. Lovely book except that I hated the ending :( From your review it looks like they changed the ending in the movie.