Watching My Sister's Keeper, I knew that it would be a sad one. I wanted to read the book before watching the film. However, that didn't happen. I had two hours to myself, and so I braced myself with a box of tissues, Bryan's snuggie, and my pjs. I was ready for whatever sadness laid ahead.
To start, I like how the movie flips back and forth between the past and present, so you know what decisions were made and how they came to certain ideas and problems. Narrated by each character at different points, the movie made me feel compassion for characters that otherwise would be wallflowers had we not heard their version of the day-to-day events.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, a family discovers that their five year old daughter has leukemia. Her parents are not blood matches, so they pick genes from each other to create their third child to assist Kate. Throughout their lives, the two sisters work together in the hospital, fighting to keep Kate healthy. At 11, the younger sister decides she doesn't want to donate her kidney to sister - as she was never asked if this is something she wanted to do. An act of braveness or act of selfishness?
Cancer. What to say about that? I've been blessed to only know a few people who have been sick. Those that were sick with cancer, I was young enough where I didn't realize the pain and suffering. However, it isn't always those who are sick who are suffering.
The movie focused not only on Kate's sickness, and her sister's fight against donating her kidney, but how everyone gets pushed aside at some point. I just felt awful for the brother. You know very little of what he does, where he goes - he is just a shadow in the background of medicines and hospitals. Kate, the girl who is sick, narrates how she took her father's first love away from him. In short, her mother only focused on her and her illness. Nothing more. I like how Kate realizes the impact of her illness on everyone, which almost forces her to make the decision not to fight any longer. I can't imagine having that strength as a teenager.
Early in the movie Kate refused to leave her bedroom, because after treatment she lost all her hair. Again. She was laying in her bed, crying, wailing in fact, saying how she was a freak and wasn't beautiful. Her father and sister were trying to gently coax her out of bed. Her mother was standing in the doorway, completely beside herself. After screaming to her daughter she had enough, her mother, played by Cameron Diaz - went into the bathroom and shaved off her blond hair. It was a simple act. But so powerful. Her mother couldn't make things better for her, but she could join her in looking a certain way. I believe it was also the turning point for Kate, where she knew she was going to die.
She eventually meets another cancer patient, Taylor, and this is her first and only boyfriend. This was also one of the only parts of the movie where I truly couldn't see through my own tears. Back in the hospital for more chemo, Kate is throwing up in a bucket. Taylor comes swooping in, holds back her hair - and gives her a stick of gum afterwards. There they sit, a pair of bald patients, holding each other, almost grasping at the only normal thing in their lives - each other. It struck a chord, and the tear gates opened.
I have heard that the book goes into more detail of each character, which is something I feel the movie lacked. It didn't explain her (short) relationship with a fellow cancer patient. All we know is the end result. Sadness.
I don't want to give too much away with the movie, but though the ending was of course sad, but it cleared up a little bit of hostility for me. Throughout the movie, I couldn't understand how and why certain characters reacted so harshly. Or why the younger sister was being so selfish. Or why the mother was so overbearing. The end comes, and you are left with a little piece of serenity.