DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Little Miss Stem Cells Sues for
When their daughter Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) is diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 2, Sara and Brian Fitzgerald (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) decide to do whatever it takes to save her life. And once her doctor explains that her best chance at beating the disease lies in finding a stem cell donor, they opt to harvest an exact genetic match via in vitro fertilization.
From birth, the test tube baby’s life becomes intertwined with that of her sickly sibling when tissue is taken from her umbilical cord. As time goes on, Anna (Abigail Breslin) is subjected to a series of increasingly-invasive procedures as she is stuck, poked and prodded for assorted extractions of platelets, blood and bone marrow.
By the time she’s 11, Little Miss Stem Cells is asked to donate one of her kidneys because her big sister’s are already failing. However, the surgeon warns that after this operation Anna will never be able to be a cheerleader or play soccer again for the rest of the life.
Fed up with being expected to make so many sacrifices, she enlists the assistance of an attorney (Alec Baldwin) to sue for Medical Emancipation. The lawsuit creates a rift between her parents which pushes the couple to the brink of divorce. For her mother, who abandoned her own legal career to care for Kate 24/7, suddenly sees Anna as selfish, while her father, a hard-working fireman, proves far more understanding.
Based on Jodi Picoult’s best-seller of the same name, My Sister's Keeper is a character-driven morality play of deceptive emotional depth. This remarkably-rich screen version was directed by Nick Cassavetes who went to great lengths to develop each of the principal player’s perspective of the fundamental, ethical life-or-death question at hand. Faithfully-adapted, except for the ending, this poignant, dysfunctional family drama marks the maturation of Cameron Diaz into a consummate thespian capable of handling the most challenging of material.
Furthermore, her powerfully-grounding performance is matched in intensity by those of Abigail Breslin as the taken for granted Anna; Sofia Vassilieva as the wasting away Kate; Jason Patric as the stoic family patriarch; Evan Ellingson as the brooding big brother; Alec Baldwin as a vulnerable crusader for the underdog; and Joan Cusack as a judge concerned about the best interest of the plaintiff.
A gut-wrenching tearjerker with a decent chance of landing on this critic’s annual 10 Best List.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, sensuality, mature themes, disturbing images and underage alcohol consumption.
Running time: 109 minutes
Studio: New Line Cinema
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes and trailers.