Review: My Sister's Keeper

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. To the extent that many will deem the assault highly successful, Warner's "Keeper" could be a sleeper, especially as a femme-friendly alternative to the latest "Transformers."

Adapted from Jodi Picoult's 2004 bestseller, "My Sister's Keeper" is the saga of the long-suffering Fitzgerald family, pivoting on a crucial moment in the lives of two sisters: teenage Kate, who was diagnosed with leukemia at an early age and has been in and out of hospitals ever since, and 11-year-old Anna, who was conceived in vitro as a perfect genetic match for Kate -- a living repository of blood, bone marrow and other bodily resources.

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. Their dad, Brian (Jason Patric), takes the news better than mom Sara (Cameron Diaz), who is fiercely and overbearingly devoted to Kate's welfare, often to the neglect of her husband, younger daughter and son Jesse (Evan Ellingson).

Writer-director Nick Cassavetes and co-scribe Jeremy Leven retain Picoult's technique of narrating the story from multiple points of view, interwoven with flashbacks that trace Kate's declining health and its impact on the family at every stage. 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.

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Jul 2, 2009 5:08PM EDT

Watch My Sister's Keeper free online

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