Twisted sister’s misery porn – My Sister’s Keeper review

My Sister’s Keeper – Starring Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin and Sofia Vassilieva. Directed by Nick Cassavettes. Rated M for mature themes and infrequent coarse language. 103 mins. By Simon Miraudo.

My mother is going to hate this review. In fact, I can guarantee that most women will hate this review. Of the several hundred ladies that attended the screening for My Sister’s Keeper, I would estimate that 85% left the cinema in tears. They will tell their friends that the film is beautiful and one of the saddest, loveliest motion pictures they have ever seen. And hey, that’s their completely valid opinion. But if you are one of those ladies, I recommend you stop reading this review. You are not going to like me very much by the end of it.

Now, I’m just going to come out and say it: My Sister’s Keeper is an evil, evil film. It grabs a hold of its audience and confronts them with horrific images of young children dying of cancer; vomiting blood; losing their hair; trying to kill themselves; weeping constantly. But this isn’t emotional, or touching, or even real. It’s misery-porn of the lowest degree. “Look how awful it is to die!” the film screams at us. “Even children suffer to the last breath!” it howls. This film doesn’t have a heart. It has a blackened husk fueled by dollar bills. My Sister’s Keeper is a committee-approved nerve-snapper that, much like its main character, has been genetically engineered to MAKE! YOU! CRY!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The film tells the story of sisters Anna (Abigail Breslin) and Kate (Sofia Vassilieva). Kate is dying of cancer, and she needs a kidney if she wants to see her 15th birthday. Parents Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian (Jason Patric) have known this since Kate was only five years old – which is why they genetically engineered a daughter to be a perfect match for that all-important transplant. The thing is, Anna doesn’t want to undergo the procedure. It seems that Anna loves Kate with all of her heart … just not with all of her kidney. The film’s climax takes place in a courtroom, because as we all know, unoriginal films must conclude in a courtroom. Anna hires slick attorney Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) to sue her parents for ‘medical emancipation’ and free her from their bizarre birth pact. Before we get to that point however, the audience must endure a dumbfounding 90 minutes of soul-crushing tragedy.

Now, soul-crushing tragedy isn’t inherently bad; but when it is constructed as manipulatively as it is in this film, it’s inexcusable. Moments of joy are almost immediately juxtaposed with moments of intense gloom, seemingly just to enhance the awfulness of the latter situation. Characters are introduced just so they can die and illicit yet another scene in which the main character’s weep. Observe the Judge presiding over the case played by Joan Cusack –why are we told that her daughter is recently deceased? Just so another character can mention it and make her cry? Is this what we accept in place of reasonable character interaction these days?

The performances in the film are actually pretty great, most notably young Breslin and Vassilieva. They are spared my vitriol. My sights are set on the man behind all the manipulation: director Nick Cassavettes. I haven’t seen his most famous film, The Notebook, but every woman I meet seems to love it more than their actual partners. Needless to say, I’ve been preventing my girlfriend from seeing it for the past three years. His handling of the source material is so heavy-handed and overbearing, I half expected him to jump into frame and start showing us pictures of starving third-world babies.

And speaking of the source material – I haven’t been so terrified in a cinema as I was when the opening credits revealed that My Sister’s Keeper is based on a book by Jodi Picoult. Nooo! Anyone but Jodi Picoult! Seriously, I’d take Stephanie Meyer over Jodi Picoult any day. The film is full of the lazy story-telling that has made Picoult a joke in the literary world. For example, the movie has five narrators. Five narrators!? Any filmmaker worth their salt knows they should show and not tell. My Sister’s Keeper features five of the main characters talking about how much they love each other and are so sad all the time. Heaven forbid we actually see them talking or relating to one another; whenever they start to, they’re overdubbed by the freaking narration.

I’d like to get back to the film’s core problem – its blackened husk of a heart. Just because a movie is about such a horrible, family-destroying illness as cancer doesn’t make it manipulative. Terminal illnesses have touched pretty much everyone’s life, and every subject, no matter how upsetting, deserves to be discussed in an intelligent forum. Cinema is no exception. However, My Sister’s Keeper has nothing to say about cancer, except that it’s really, really awful. Cassavettes attempts to tag onto the very end of the film a moralistic lesson about appreciating the time we have while we’re alive. That’s hard to buy when the main characters spend Kate’s dying days planning for one of history’s most contrived court-cases.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t reluctant about posting this review. The last time I eviscerated a film about illness and organ donation, readers threatened to donate my testicles – and against my will no less. But I’m just going to have to deal with the potential backlash, because I truly believe that this film is not only bad, but bad for society. Rich Hollywood honchos have bought the rights to a lazy-Jodi Picoult novel with a built-in audience, handed it over to a director known for making weepies, and hired a talented cast to really sell the awfulness. Most despicably, it hinges its success on the hopes that the film will inspire a pavlovian response from the audience, who will remember the time they were confronted with a horrible illness, and break them down into tears. And just to reiterate – sorry mum.

0.5/5

Check out my other reviews here!

18 Responses to “Twisted sister’s misery porn – My Sister’s Keeper review”

  1. The person who has watched this film and written this piece of review is a right sodding plonker if nothing else.

  2. I dont know why quickflix is not sacking Simon Miraudo. I mean look at his face. He is sick and disgusting. I cant bear to read is lengthy drivel in the name of review.

  3. Mr Miraudo….I am deeply disappointed with your review. I was one of the sobbing women in the theatre last night that you referred to and I'd to say that I absolutely loved the film. I haven't cried so much during a movie since watching Steel Magnolias and even though I felt emotionally drained as I walked out of the theatre, I also felt inspired. I was inspired by the love that existed in the Fitzgerald family. I was inspired by the reminder that a family day at the beach can bring so much joy. I was inspired by the innocence and passion that existed between Kate and Taylor. But most of all, I was inspired by the strength and maturity that Kate showed while she was nearing the end of her short life. I know it was only a movie, but Kate's bravery and optimism helped me put my miniscule problems into perspective.My Sister's Keeper was one of the best books I have ever read, and even though the film was significanlty different, I absolutely loved this movie. Shame on you Mr Miraudo for writing this review. Shame on you and your shrivelled, black heart.

  4. Miraudo, SOByour gonna get yourass kicked son.

  5. Yeah, I figured it would come to this. I have a feeling that may have even been my mother who posted the first anonymous comment.

  6. Epic review. Well written. I take my hat off to you good sir.Thank you for being honest. These sorry excuses for movies need to stop. "Marley and Me" anyone?

  7. Are people kidding?? Simon, thank you for having the balls to tell the truth!! Jodi Picoult is one of the most pathetically useless and talentless writers in existence and you pretty much hit the nail on the head with her storytelling. She might as well just write a book called "You Know How You Have These Awful Fears That One Day Someone You Love Could Die? Or Perhaps All Of Them At Once? Well…. It Will Happen." Uggghhh please. Her writing style is like an eight year old's:"John went to the shop. The shop was down the street. John bought milk, chocolate, toilet paper and rice. John's mother died in an accident when he was young. He always feared cars. As John crossed the street, a car came and ran him down. John died instantly. The end." Oh god, her stories are so bad that the reader actually gets dumber every page they read. So why oh why would someone let her make a movie out of such utter crap?? I think a better use of someone's time rather than watching this movie (or reading any Jodi Picoult book) would be donating to a cancer charity. Thank you for writing this review Simon because it's absolutely spot on.

  8. Thank your for having the guts to write your review.I love a movie that makes me cry, but I can't stand the sort of books JP produces. I won't be seeing Sisters Keeper.

  9. Once I knew what the story was about I made myself a promise I would not read or watch it.I think Simon's review would be on the money. Don't need a movie especially a fake one to make me inspired.I know three people who committed suicide while we were freshly out of high school, my father died of cancer, a co-workers child died, I have real life stories.I already have those fears and tell myself "I know that I would find a way to move on if someone I loved died, hell I have(my father), however I wish that no one had to do with that". I cry at the drop of a hat lately so no way will I watch a movie like that. I hated them before all the sadness and now am more determined to avoid it.

  10. cracking review son. I agree onehundredpercent. I found it a movie that had to explain every second of what was going on, coz the audience we obviously too stupid (or busy blubbering…myself included) to understand. bleh. i wash may hands of you sisters keeper

  11. Thank you Simon for your very honest review – I mean that is what you are here for right? To give YOUR opinion and tell us what YOU honestly felt about this film? I would like to read reviews in every light not just the ones designed to sell the film. I'm still going to see it for myself to make up my own mind but I completely understand what you are trying to say with your review and I have a feeling that by the end of the film I will be laughing and nodding my head in agreement with you. why do people get so upset? Calm down and take deep breaths! It is just a movie and just a review!

  12. No, I have not seen this movie and am never likely to. Having lost a family member to cancer I have been down that path already, I don't need to relive it.If this film is indeed "misery porn" then why would ANYBODY want to see it? I suspect that there are those who feel that they are somehow better people for having a good bawl at somebody elses misery, it convinces them that they are good people who really do care about death and cancer and all that entails.Heads up : seeing a movie like this WON'T make you a better person. You are exploiting other people's real misery vicariously without actually risking the loss of someone you really love. And I don't know about you, but I find that particularly distasteful. If this is an issue that you really care about, then go out and raise some money or volunteer at a hospital or hospice. Thanks Simon for having the courage to write a really honest review, keep it up!

  13. That's hilarious!Honestly, I did find the book pretty awful. It wasn't that the plot wasn't okay, or the twist a minor surprise… but I found myself skipping paragraphs, sentances, PAGES of the thing. I will see the film at some point but I love your honesty. They tend to do this with films now… fill it with emotive dribble so that we sob, buy another ticket, take some more friends, sob some more, buy the dvd, and continue sobbing all the way to the bank.(The lovely bones being a classic example, beautiful book turned into action DRAMA. >.>)

  14. Great review, Simon. Having had a sister go through cancer and all it entails, I despise these tearjerker films that glorify the suffering. I often wonder how those who enjoy sobbing through these films would actually find the painful tedium of going through cancer and its treatment. Days and weeks and months and years of dealing with vomiting and pain and perianal fissures and ulcers lining the mouth and esophagus aren't quite as pleasurable as sobbing in a theatre for an hour and a half.

  15. I agree with you Simon, I found it really sentimental, I call it a ‘try hard’ movie in that I find myself trying hard to enjoy it and to find it realistic and to get moved, but the reality is I just wasn’t!! I thought the subject matter was really interesting, and the acting really good, but way too sentimental an approach, I would have liked to see some real relationship interactions.

  16. Great review. The acting was terrific, but the way this movie formulaically manipulated viewers, then schlocked through one contrivance after another and introduced that stupid court case… ugh. Audiences deserve a smarter and more genuine story about cancer.

  17. OMG THANK YOU!!!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU X 1,000,000,000,000,000!!!!! I absolutely despise this movie exactly for the reasons you said! This movie is so stupid! I don’t know why people even liked this thing! I absolutely despise it, and the book which I had to read for an English Class, that’s right, this movie and the book are being taught IN SCHOOL! Everybody loved this book except me in the class because I hated the narration and story telling and stupid sub plots and romance, they were painful to read! I’m just glad to know that someone sees this film for the Satanic, evil, and horrible film that it, and the book, really are! Thank you! Awesome review!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 348 other followers

%d bloggers like this: