Director Nick Cassavetes tormented our tear ducts with “The Notebook,” a romance that played out over half a century.
His latest, the film adaptation of Jodi Picoult’s novel “My Sister’s Keeper,” declares war on your emotions and takes no prisoners.
Slow motion sequences. Weepy music. Emotional scrapbooks. Long walks on the beach.
The film, just released on DVD and Blu-ray, wisely jettisons a key plot twist from the source material but tries too hard to leave us drowning in tears.
“Keeper” stars Cameron Diaz as Sara, the mother of a teenager named Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) who was given a death sentence at an early age but keeps hanging on.
Sara and her husband (Jason Patric) decided years ago to have a third child in order to make a genetic match for Kate.
Enter Anna (Abigail Breslin), the product of their breeding experiment. Anna loves her dying sister, but she’s tired of being poked and prodded to keep her alive.
And now she’s had enough. She hires a lawyer (Alec Baldwin) to prevent her parents from forcing her to give Kate one of her kidneys in one last chance to save her life.
Melodramatic enough for you? Just wait.
“My Sister’s Keeper” keeps ladling on the subplots until even a soap opera junkie might scream, “enough!”
Raw, uncompromising performances make it all tolerable. Vassilieva turns a romanticized figure into a wonderfully complex young woman, and Breslin’s winning streak continues with Anna.
Poor Patric isn’t given much to do, but he walks off with the film’s best moment.
Kate, dressed up for a big dance, asks her father if she looks beautiful. Patric’s character says nothing. He doesn’t have to – his answer can be read on his beaming face.
If only the script applied that kind of restraint to the rest of the film.
Diaz travels miles out of her comfort zone to play Sara, but she’s not experienced enough to tease something more out of a one-dimensional role.
“My Sister’s Keeper” is never dull, and those eager to break out the Kleenex on movie night won’t be disappointed. But the dramatic bludgeoning will leave most audiences bleary eyed, nothing more.
(Photo: Kate (Sofia Kassilieva) and her sister Anna (Abigail Breslin) discuss the hardships of Kate’s condition in New Line Cinema’s drama “My Sister’s Keeper,” distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Photo by Sidney Baldwin)