It's rare these days to find a movie that is not only better, but completely surpasses it's literary counterpart in both quality and story. Such is the case with the best-selling book and newly released film, My Sister's Keeper, starring Cameron Diaz.Diaz plays Sara Fitzgerald. A housewife and mother of two, who is struggling to keep it all together after she learns that her young daughter Kate (a brilliant performance by newcomer Sofia Vasillieva, Medium) has a rare and deadly form of cancer. In their desperation to find a cure, the Fitzgerald family decides to conceive a third child, who will be a genetic match and donor for their dying girl. Little do the Fitzgerald's realize the Pandora's box of problems they are about to unleash on their family in doing so.
As the film opens, genetic match and younger sister Anna (a very tender Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine) is seeking legal emancipation from her parents for the rights to her own body. A body that she has used to help her sister in various treatments throughout the years. Aware that this decision will surely cause her sister's death, Anna presses forward, determined to have a voice in a situation where she is rarely consulted and often neglected. Anna's actions set off a chain of events that causes the family to take a step back and re-evaluate what is most important to them.
I thought the movie was extremely well-done, with an excellent soundtrack, heart wrenching narration and pitch-perfect casting. All of the characters are very three-dimensional, and your feelings are constantly being changed as you look at the situation through each of the different perspectives. Where the book was heavy, over-the-top, dramatic, depressing, and completely bogged down by legal issues, the movie has a very believable quality which is grounded in the strong performances by the entire cast (this is Cameron Diaz's best work to date, and I especially liked the cameo from Thomas Dekker [Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles] as Kate's boyfriend Taylor). I also liked that the movie focused more on the dynamics of the Fitzgerald family: their love, disagreements, and courage in coping with terminal illness. The ending to the movie, My Sister's Keeper, was far superior to the ending of the book, and this was one of the few times where I was very pleased with the director's lisence in changing the story.
Do yourself a favor and skip the book My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. However, I strongly encourage you to grab your sister or best girlfriend and go see the film My Sister's Keeper. One of the best chick flicks I have seen in a very long time. Oh, and don't forget to bring a box of Kleenex! Happy viewing!