My Sister’s Keeper is a perfect example of a disease-of-the-week movie done wrong. It starts with an intriguing premise: Anna Fitzgerald (Breslin) was created in a test tube as “spare parts” for her older sister, Kate (Vassilieva), who has leukemia. Anna has provided blood, marrow and other bits and pieces and is now up for a kidney donation. But now Anna is 10 and approaches a lawyer to sue her family for the rights to her own body. With Alec Baldwin as the snappy, soft-spoken lawyer (complete with a dog), things start to look interesting.
Additionally, director Nick Cassavetes and co-screenwriter Jeremy Leven take special pains to give each family member his or her own introduction with his or her own narration. From there, however, the movie launches into a huge flashback detailing Kate and her disease. Actually, it details more of the disease than Kate; we never really know who Kate is. She’s all sweetness and light, smiles and sunshine, all the time.
When we finally, finally return to the lawsuit, it’s rushed and fizzles out. And meanwhile, all the other characters have been sidelined. When stuck for ideas, Cassavetes simply throws in musical montages that never exactly fit. It’s as if he started out with a more interesting ensemble piece and then got hounded by the producers to churn out another The Notebook (2004) instead. Last year’s underrated cancer film Elegy was a far better example of raging against the dying of the light.