Saturday, January 23, 2010

Movie: My Sister's Keeper

I posted a review of the book last year in July. I read the book only because I saw the trailer of the movie and that it sounded like a promising story. But the book as I have mentioned in the book review was that though "the story/premise was good, the execution was a pain, and at the ending, I get a wham!"

But I decided to give it a chance anyway and watched the movie - maybe, just maybe the story would be much better told in a movie, and that I will be able to accept the ending. And this will be the first time I am ever going to say this - yes, the movie is much, much better than the book.

If you plan to read the book or watch the movie, you better stop reading here.

I complained that the book was painstaking to read because every chapter was told in a first person perspective and it confused me - the author does not forewarn you at which timeframe each chapter is at. She does not do like what some authors would, i.e. put the year or date at the beginning of each section of chapter. So after frowning for 5 sentences in every other chapter, I was beginning to have a headache. The movie didn't have that problem - you'd know in a split second by the look of the scene, reusing of the same scene where it left off before, or the ages of the kids, where you are at in the story.

I complained that I cannot stand Sara, the mother. The character was played by Cameron Diaz. If I am not wrong, this was her first time in taking a dramatic role and I thought she played it well. You can see that she was a mother obsessed with ensuring that Kate, the one with leukemia, gets well.

I complained that I was bored with Brian, the father. The character was played by Jason Patric. He was quite good - he played the more down-to-earth parent, not so obsessed. The one who gives nods of understanding, keeps silent when silence is best and brought a very sick Kate to the beach because she wanted to.

I complained that I could not stand Julia. The screenwriters agree with me! This character was not included in the movie - she'd be a waste of space. But if she is included, I imagined Minnie Driver, (no offense, I like her) would be a good pick.

I complained that Campbell, the lawyer, sounds quite hollow though I like him. The character was played by Alec Baldwin. He was good too. And the screenwriters got rid of the numerous cheesy dialogues about his dog - thankfully!

But about Jesse, the brother - the more indepth and emotional character in the book - he was not that well brought out by the actor, Evan Ellingson. I don't know why - he does not seem to get into the character - he does not stand out. Or could it be that the screenwriters did not put that much into the character in the first place? Or maybe I was expecting too much from Jesse in the movie.

Then Anna, the star of the movie - I find Abigail Breslin an amazing actor. I saw her in No Reservations, Definitely Maybe and Miss Sunshine. She is talented. I absolutely believed her in all the four movies I watched her in. She played Anna extremely well.

Kate was played by Sofia Vassilieva who performed well. And oh! Joan Cusack played the judge. I have not watched that many of her movies but I have liked her in those I did, the usually more quirky roles. But her performance in this movie was good - she played the judge who just came back several months after grieving over the loss of her teenage daughter who died in an accident.

Then the ending of the movie. As the movie was about to come to a close, I began to wonder if the screenwriters stuck to Jodi Picoult's ending. They did not. The movie's ending was not a happy one but it was expected. It ended with Kate dying in the presence and the love of the entire family, intact. She died in peace and her memory lived on in the hearts of the family. Anna won the case, but it was not relevant anymore. It was an expected ending - no twist, nothing unexpected, she died like she was suppose to, or was it?

In the book, after Anna won the case and she was medically emancipated, she got into an accident. Anna died, and Kate got her kidneys. People found this ending cheap and careless. The author may want to have a more profound ending but it was it profound? As the plot goes, Anna only went to court because Kate wanted her to. Kate wanted it all to stop, she wanted to die, she needs to get ready to die, but her mother wasn't listening or even aware of it. She only wanted Kate to live and didn't realise that Kate need to live before she dies. So Kate asked Anna to sue her parents. Therefore to have Anna die after she gets medical emancipated and for Kate to get Anna's kidneys and live long after that isn't so profound, or was it? It was definitely unexpected.

I find this ending cruel. But then again, isn't life cruel and unfair? And would this be what the author intended, to give a message that, look, life is cruel and when you are not looking, it smashes you in the face.

What do you think? I mean, this is just fiction. So should fiction give us reality or dreams, idealism, utopia? I suppose we need both. We need to face the fact that life is real and it can come with what is unexpected but we do need to dream too.

So oddly, My Sister's Keeper gives us both, one in a book and another in a movie.


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