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Family Catharsis in the Courtroom in My Sister's Keeper

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My Sister's Keeper
Directed by Nick Cassavetes
Warner Bros.
Opens June 26

Eleven-year-old Anna Fitzgerald's parents didn't just plan for her—they customized her in utero, with the specific end of providing spare parts and infusions for her leukemia-sick older sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva). When Kate relapses, experiencing renal failure, Anna (Abigail Breslin) defies her birthright duty to play donor and cough up a kidney. She contacts TV-spot lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin, possibly the only actor who doesn't cry on-screen), who agrees to help her win medical emancipation. Before mom Sara (Cameron Diaz) quit work to scrutinize her daughter's cell count, she was a lawyer herself, which sets the stage for a family catharsis in the courtroom. Screenwriter Jeremy Leven and director Nick Cassavetes, who previously jackpotted with The Notebook, reunite to adapt another heartstrings molester. From a 2004 Jodi Picoult bestseller, My Sister's Keeper mashes Death Be Not Proud with Irreconcilable Differences. The film is extraordinarily explicit in showing the effects of disease and what's involved in caring for the sick. You don't usually see this unblinking attention to the progress of physical decay in a PG-13 wide-release movie, and to the degree that it represents a real aspect of human experience generally curtained out of sight, it is, in the language of movie people, a brave decision. But makeup department realism alone can't redeem the dramatic fallacies surrounding it.

 
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