Sunday, December 6, 2009

Alternate Endings

Warning: major spoilers for the film and book!

My Sister's Keeper
Director: Nick Cassavettes
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack
Released: 6/26/09

I had pretty low expectations while watching this, knowing that the book is always better than the movie, at least 90% of the time. The film wasn't horrible, but it definitely had flaws. A lot of them. It seemed more like a made-for-TV (perhaps Lifetime? Of course, many of Picoult's books seem like they would fit in perfectly with Lifetime's lineup.

As you probably already know, this movie is based on Jodi Picoult's best-selling novel of the same name about a young girl named Anna (played by Breslin) who sues her parents for the rights to her own body because she was genetically conceived to have the same blood type as her older sister, Kate, who is ridden with cancer. I read it three and a half years ago and it was one of those can't-put-down books. The problem with the movie is the way they translated it to the big screen didn't quite work. If you've read the book, you may remember that different characters alternate telling the story in their POV with each chapter. There's random voice overs from the different characters that just seem out of place. One second, two characters are talking to each other, then the next you hear a voice over from one of the characters. Very distracting. The film is very manipulative and the director tries way to hard beating the audience over the head with his "okay, you're supposed to cry now because this is sad, damnit!" scenes. And every other scene involves a sappy, melancholy song set to the characters in slo-mo whether they're playing at a beach or blowing bubbles while jumping on a trampoline. After a while, you start to roll your eyes.

Baldwin plays the lawyer Breslin hires and he plays his character exactly the same way he plays Jack Donaghy that I kept preparing for a punch line. Diaz plays the mother and she is a shrill little harpy in this movie, but I suppose her character has good reason to be so upset.

But those little flaws aside, the film does follow the novel pretty faithfully...until the end. And here's where the major spoiler comes in place, so stop reading if you've never read the book and don't want to be spoiled, don't read the next paragraph...

In the book, there is a huge twist and Anna dies in a car accident and her kidney is given to her sister who goes on to live a relatively normal and healthy life. There's a scene in the movie where Anna and Kate are talking about heaven and I was thinking, "Aha! Foreshadowing! Everybody thinks it's going to be Kate, but it's really Anna!" Turns out I was the wrong one. In the film, that never happens and Kate dies, as one would expect someone that sick with cancer to do. I'm not sure why they changed the ending (perhaps too lazy?), but it is a little funny that the more preposterous ending is from the book. Hollywood loves those kinds of crazy twist endings, so you think it would eat that up.

If you've never read the book, you might enjoy the movie (if you can stand really cheesy scenes), but I would recommend the book before the film.

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