Tuesday, 14 June 2011

My Sister's Keeper: Book Vs. Film

Jodi Picoult is a bestselling women's fiction author and with good reason. She has broken the mould of nice and neat literature by exploring taboo subjects with sensitivity and grit. She has explored horrific topics from rape to organ donation and terminal illness. The infamous grey area where things are not clear cut and there are different perspectives to consider.

In My Sister's Keeper, she writes about a family with a child so sick they genetically alter a new baby to be born as a perfect match for its big sister. The cells from newborn Anna are used from the moment of her birth to help her big sister live just a little longer and continue as the years pass. And while all these operations and procedures help Kate live, they are not a cure and she continues to get sick and have treatment for her Leukaemia.

So when Anna goes to a lawyer and asks to sue for the rights to her own body, there are some serious reactions from her family. Her mother cannot understand how she could be so selfish and issue what is tantamount to a death warrant to her big sister while Anna's father tries to understand and be more sympathetic to his daughter's plight. After all, you can't help one child by hurting another - can you?

And this is the moral and ethical dilemma that is explored so beautifully by Picoult throughout the book. As the court case continues, Kate is getting sicker and the already dysfunctional family unit starts to fracture even more under the increasing pressure. The marriage between mum Sarah and dad Brian is close to complete meltdown and tensions are constantly running high. The brother Jesse is all but forgotten amid the chaos and Kate spends a lot of time in a hospital bed, sheltered by her parents. They clearly think they are protecting her but frequently get it wrong or make it worse. Kate gets a brief flickering romance with a fellow patient at the hospital that is so cute and endearing it makes you smile.

The point to the book is that no human is perfect and when faced with a situation as horrific as this, nobody knows how they would react. As with all good Picoult books, there are twists and turns you do not see coming that will leave you stunned and moved to tears on numerous occasions. To tell you any more would ruin the book so I will just say have tissues at the ready and read with an open mind to all perspectives.

5 out of 5 FOBLES - sensitive and daring. Perfect!

Now the film... The film had Abigail Breslin playing Anna and Cameron Diaz playing her mother. Two pieces of great casting that would have worked had the film been any good...but sadly it was not.

I heard when this was due out that something big had been changed but when I saw it at the cinema I was horrified to discover what it was that had been changed. I can't say what without ruining it but it's not a small change I can tell you that and it completely ruined the brilliantly written and darkly poetic ending to the masterpiece novel. It managed to turn a sensitive, sweet and endearing teen romance into something overly raunchy and unnecessary. For the brief moments where I actually enjoyed seeing the relationship between the sisters on the big screen I will give it 1 FOBLE but otherwise it's an overly sentimental destruction of a work of literary genius and deserves nothing more from me.

If it had stuck to the plot of the book, it would have been a classy, clever and endearing weepy but it ended up being an overly sentimental tearjerker playing for cheap tears like a bad comedy plays for the cheap and obvious laughs. I have never been so compelled to complain as I did when I watched this and even found myself going on to the Jodi Picoult website to ask her what the hell she had done in allowing them to destroy her masterpiece. Evidently I was not the first... as Jodi had already written on her page that she had no say in the matter and if you wanted to complain, do it the filmmakers directly.... so I did.

1 out of 5 FOBLES.  Horrific, tacky and obvious.

LE xx


  1. I liked the film a bit more than you did but the ending was TERRIBLE - the written ending was sad but completely memorable. I don't know why they just didn't keep it.

    Great post.

  2. Yeah I really wanted to like it but that ending just angered me so much. The whole cinema was sniffling at the end except me and my best mate (who at THAT moment just screamed WHAT!?).

    Ooooh we were angry!

  3. I too despised the film! They omitted everything: Julia and Jesse's edcharacters (jesse may as well have been omitted for all he contributed to the storyline), the romance between Cambell and the non-existent Julia and so many more things. I agree about making the Taylor/Kate romance raunchier than it need to be and I felt that the symbolism of fire, Brian's profession as a firefighter and Jesse's pyromania added so much to the storyline. Not just that but Kate and not Anna became the protagonist.

    Don't even get me started on Anna's characterisation either-she became a phoney, baloney airheaded teen. The way she marched into Campbell's office, noting his celebrity... Atrocious.

  4. Loved your comparison :) So accurate. But I would at least give it 2/5.

    As I watch the movie, I have mixed emotions. I hate how they ended it, I mean i get why they might had done that, but the movie just ruined my view on the whole story line.

    Con's: THE ENDING, and Jesse, his name was barley mentioned. Julia was non-existant, and Anna, the character she portrayed was far from the one that was written in the book. She was more outgoing then she should have been. Sara seemed less like a mother, and more like an extreme antagonist, just bad overall, not good at all. The flashbacks, they seemed more present day. When Sara shaved her head, the dance.


    I did enjoy seeing one of my favorite books come to life on screen, but I wish they would have stuck more to the story lines. I loved the Taylor and Kate scenes, but they over did it.

    That's just my opinion.