There’s crying and vomiting aplenty in “My Sister’s Keeper,” and audiences may be forgiven the urge to respond in kind.
Unsubtle, uneven and undeniably effective, this take-no-prisoners cancer weepie poses a fascinating moral quandary — a girl fighting her parents for the right to control her body while her older sister wastes away from leukemia — as a mere pretext for a full-scale assault on the viewer’s tear ducts.
While the device feels arch and clunky in its attempt to accommodate the perspectives of five characters, giving short shrift to some (the script regards Jesse with scarcely more interest than Sara does), it does reinforce the idea of the family as a fragmented unit, whose members find themselves at odds in matters of life and death.
Cassavetes was arguably well prepped for this film, having directed one crowdpleasing tearjerker (“The Notebook”) and grappled with medical ethics, sort of, in “John Q.” Yet the lack of tonal discipline evident in his past work is also present here, as the story’s stew of family angst, terminal-illness melodrama and courtroom theatrics produces a dangerously unstable mixture of moods.
Kate will not survive if she does not receive the kidney.
Because of this, Anna is unable to lead a normal life, as she must always “be there” for her sister. This time, however, Anna is unwilling to donate the needed kidney and with the help of attorney Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin), sues her parents for “medical emancipation,” or the rights to her own body.
So when Anna marches into a lawyer’s office and announces her decision to sue for “medical emancipation” — which would free her from her obligation to donate the kidney that could save Kate’s life — their parents feel understandably shocked and betrayed.Tony Hicks writes celebrity commentary for the Bay Area News Group. This is depressing stuff, and plays no better than it reads.She screams at him for letting their daughter leave the hospital, he screams back, and they threaten to divorce each other.Not once does Brian mention what the doctor told him, or that everything has been arranged.