My Sister's Keeper (film)

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My Sister's Keeper
My sisters keeper poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nick Cassavetes
Produced by Stephen Furst
Scott Goldman
Mark Johnson
Chuck Pacheco
Mendel Tropper
Screenplay by Jeremy Leven
Nick Cassavetes
Based on My Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult
Starring Cameron Diaz
Abigail Breslin
Sofia Vassilieva
Alec Baldwin
Jason Patric
David Thornton
Emily Deschanel
E.G. Daily
Lin Shaye
and Joan Cusack
Narrated by Alec Baldwin
Music by Aaron Zigman
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by Jim Flynn
Alan Heim
Curmudgeon Films
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • June 26, 2009 (2009-06-26)
Running time
109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $95.7 million

My Sisters's Keeper is a 2009 American drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes and starring Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vassilieva, and Alec Baldwin. Based on Jodi Picoult's novel of the same name,[1] On June 26, 2009 the film was released to cinemas in the United States,[2] Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.


Conceived by means of in vitro fertilization, Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) was brought into the world as a savior sister at the informal suggestion of Kate's doctor, Dr. Chance (David Thornton) (a formal suggestion from the doctor would have been a violation of legal and medical ethics), as a genetic match for her older sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), who suffers from acute promyelocytic leukemia, to donate compatible organs, blood, and tissue in order to keep her sister alive. Her family members are introduced one by one, and each tells about how Kate's illness has affected them personally. When Kate turns 17, she goes into renal failure. Thirteen-year-old Anna knows that she will be forced by her parents to donate one of her kidneys. She also realizes that she may not be able to live the life she will want to lead - she may not be able to play any sports, or drink alcohol, or be a mother in the future. Anna tells her parents that she does not want any of this and proceeds to sue them for medical emancipation and the rights to her own body. Her father Brian (Jason Patric) sees Anna's point in this, though her domineering mother, Sara (Cameron Diaz), who leads an obsessive campaign to keep Kate alive, is indignant at Anna's decision when she receives the notice of court proceedings, going as far as to strike Anna across the face. Attorney Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) agrees to work for Anna as her guardian ad litem, suing for partial termination of parental rights. It is later learned he agreed to take the case not for the notoriety, but because he suffers from epilepsy, and is genuinely sympathetic to her predicament because he also understands how it feels to have no control over his body. Both Sara and Alexander tell their side of the story to the judge (Joan Cusack), who had recently lost her young daughter, something Sara inadvertently mentions. To Sara's dismay, the judge decides against summary dismissal, and the case goes to a hearing.

The film is interlaced with flashbacks that detail Kate and Anna's close relationship, as well as how Kate's illness has affected her siblings' lives and their relationships. In a flashback, Kate also meets a fellow cancer patient, Taylor Ambrose (Thomas Dekker), whom she begins dating. After a date, they kiss outside Kate's house, with Sara and Kate's father Brian watching from their bedroom window. After this, he becomes her boyfriend in and out of hospital and supports her as she undergoes treatment. He then asks her to the hospital's "prom" for teen patients; there, they slow-dance, then proceed to a vacant hospital room. A few days later, Kate begins to worry as she has not seen Taylor since the dance. In anger, she reveals to Sara that they did "stuff" together, though later learns that Taylor has died.

Kate makes a request to go to the beach one last time. Brian obtains permission and compassionate encouragement, from Dr. Chance, who claims she is "no more sick there", to do so. Brian discharges her from the hospital for the day and takes her and the kids to the beach. When Brian arrives home to pick everyone up, Sara overreacts and demands that Kate be returned to the hospital immediately, arguing that bringing her to the beach is effectively "killing her". Brian angrily refuses and drives off, threatening Sara with a divorce if she does not join them. Sara shows up at the beach, where they enjoy one final family outing. A grief-stricken Kate later attempts suicide by overdosing on painkillers, but Anna stops her. During the hearing, Anna and Kate's brother, Jesse, reveals while Anna is on the witness stand that Anna is actually acting under Kate's instruction; Kate, not wanting to live any longer and be a detriment to her family, had gently persuaded Anna to refuse to donate her kidney. Kate knew Sara would be too narrow-minded to listen to her, though Anna also reveals that she had wanted to give Kate her kidney of her own accord, and had been terribly upset at Kate's decision. Sara is indignant and attempts to argue, but is finally forced by both Jesse and Brian to realize that Kate had been trying to tell her she is ready to die for some time. The judge makes a request to visit Kate in the hospital before finalising the case. Later that day, as the remainder of the family leave, Kate gifts her mother with a memory book she made over the years she was in the hospital, and later dies while sleeping at the hospital with her mother by her side. After Kate's death, Campbell brings the court decision: Anna won the case. The family moves on with their lives, but reveals that every year on Kate's birthday they go to Montana, which was her "most favorite place in the world". Anna concludes that she was not born merely to save her sister, she was born because she had a sister, and that she helped make life easier for everyone else.

Production and cast changes[edit]

Upon the original creation of the film adaptation, sisters Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning were cast to play Kate and Anna respectively. However, when Dakota heard that she would be required to shave her head for the role, she dropped out of the film as then did Elle. The two sisters were replaced, with Abigail Breslin taking on the lead role as Anna Fitzgerald and Sofia Vassilieva on the role of Kate Fitzgerald.[3]



Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 47% of reviews for the film were positive, based on 126 reviews.[4] Another aggregate review site Metacritic reported 51% positive reviews based on 28 reviews.[5]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend it placed 5th with a total of $12,442,212, behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Proposal (second weekend), The Hangover (fourth weekend), and Up (fifth weekend).[6] The film left theatres on October 8, 2009 with a domestic total of $49,200,230 with a further $46,459,927 from foreign markets. It has grossed $95,660,157 worldwide.[2]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2009 Teen Choice Award Choice Summer Movie Drama My Sister's Keeper Won[7]
2009 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actress in Motion Picture Cameron Diaz Won
2010 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Abigail Breslin Won
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Actor Brennan Bailey Nominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Actress Sofia Vassilieva Won

Changes from book[edit]

The most notable difference involves the ending, which the director decided to change against Picoult's wishes. In the novel, Anna dies after being left brain dead from a car accident, and her usable organs are recovered with Campbell's permission, including the vital kidney for Kate, who goes into remission. In the film, Kate dies from her cancer and Anna does not donate her kidney.

Other story threads were altered:

  • The book is set in the state of Rhode Island; the film is set in the state of California.
  • Julia Romano is completely omitted. In the book she is an adviser to Anna and Campbell Alexander's love interest.
  • Jesse commits numerous arson attacks in the novel before eventually being confronted by Brian. This was not explored in the film until the near end when Sara confronts him instead during the trial.
  • The relationship between Anna and Campbell is not explored as deeply in the film, and Campbell is a more central character in the book.
  • The history of Campbell and Judge is explained towards the end of the book, during a conversation Campbell and Julia have.
  • In the book Judge is a German Shepherd, but in the movie he is a Border Collie.
  • In the book, Sara is a brunette whereas in the movie, she is blonde.
  • In the book, Brian is a blond, while in the film, he is brunette.
  • Also in the book, Sara is more patient and understanding, though at times she doesn't think clearly and is mildly obsessive. While in the film, Sara is more brash and obsessive.
  • In the film, it is revealed that Kate, whilst picking out a dress for the hospital prom, has a massive tantrum and storms off, soon coming across a beautiful wig that she wants to wear to the event. In the novel, Anna helps Kate feel better by making a couple of jokes to the hairdresser on how to style Kate's head for the hospital prom.
  • In the book, Anna is thirteen. In the film, she's eleven.
  • In the book, Kate is sixteen, while in the film, she's fifteen.
  • In the book, Judge De Salvo is a man, but in the film, the character is a woman.
  • Anna is shown as a soccer player in the film. In the book, Anna plays hockey and dreamed of being a professional hockey player.
  • In the book, Aunt Suzanne is wealthy and comes to Sara's side occasionally. Other times, Suzanne and Sara don't get along very well. In the film, she is replaced by Aunt Kelly who works part-time to help Sara's family.
  • The film ends with the family on vacation in Montana, Kate's favorite place(not in the novel). In the beginning of the novel's ending, Kate explains that her family had been trying to cope with Anna's death since her surgery.
  • In the novel's ending, Kate is 22 and remains in remission for 6 years. In 2010, it's revealed that she works as a ballet instructor and Jesse had graduated from the police force despite his police record. In the film, Kate dies instead of Anna.
  • Although both versions reveal Kate's part in asking Anna to both refuse to donate her kidney and sue for medical emancipation, how they're shown is different. In the book, Judge's suspicious barking gets Campbell to question Anna and she reveals her true reasons behind it. In the film, it's Jesse who interrupts the whole thing and confesses Kate's part in it. This angers Anna because she was trying to protect Kate from Sara and believed Jesse betrayed their promise.
  • In the film, Sara confronts Jesse for his behavior and he maintained his resentment towards her for the years she has mistreated him. Adding to it was how Kate had tried to tell her the truth, but Sara would never listen to her. Brian hears this and remembering his support for Anna, he talks some sense into her. Realizing this, Sara feel guilty for the way she treated her children over the years. In the novel before De Salvo's verdict, Anna tells Sara the truth about Kate's refusal to go through with the surgery as she believed she was already a burden to her family and wishes for death. Although shocked and in disbelief, Sara patiently mentions that she had wished Kate told her this a long time ago.
  • Unlike in the film, Brian never threatened Sara with divorce in how she treated Kate.



TV spot:



  1. ^ Fleming, Michael (February 12, 2008). "Breslin, Vassilieva to star in 'Keeper'. Duo replaces Fanning sisters in New Line film". Variety. Retrieved February 13, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "My Sister's Keeper (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Dakota Fanning Steps Down From 'My Sister's Keeper' Role". February 13, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ "My Sister's Keeper". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 7, 2009. 
  5. ^ "My Sister's Keeper (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. 
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 26–28, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  7. ^ Teen Choice Awards winners

External links[edit]