Anna Fitzgerald looks to earn medical emancipation from her parents who until now have relied on their youngest child to help their leukemia-stricken daughter Kate remain alive.
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There's a short film on this website called The Light of Family Burnham that touches on similar themes as My Sister's Keeper. In it's storytelling roots they are both films about death. In our Western world many people have a lot of problems with this issue and no matter who you are, you are going to be forced to deal with it in some kind of way. Either your own death or the death of someone very close to you.
My Sister's Keeper is about the light of family Fitzgerald. From the exterior you see a loving family but the closer you look at the walls of the home, the more cracks you see. This is a film about the cracks in a family that is resulted by a 17 year old girl who has been sick with cancer since she was 5. The father plays the motherly role in the family and attempts to keep them together while his type-A wife attempts to keep their child alive. A bit of a role reversal in the movies but not so much in the real world. At least the real world from my point of view as I know many father's and mother's like the characters portrayed in this film and it's refreshing to see.
This film asks the questions of how far you should really go to keep someone alive. Yes, death stinks and you don't want to see someone you love die, but what is the line where you are doing things for yourself and not for the person who is dying. This is not a question of someone being selfish as you are helping that person because you love them. This is a question of love and learning how to deal with the pain that can occur when you have children. You give your child a life but you can't keep them alive when it's there time to go.
It also asks the questions of sacrifice. When someone is down, you must sacrifice your own life and the others who depend on you for that person. So while you are doing something extremely generous and caring, at the same time you are being selfish because the other people in your life get the short end of the stick. And in this particular film the parents want their children to sacrifice even more for the sake of keeping their oldest child alive. When you love someone so much you tend you have your blinders on. You begin to only see the bottom line and that's making your loved one healthy.
This is a complicated film as it asks and answers a lot of universal questions. Yes, this movie is a tearjerker as I can't imagine a person not crying when they see it. But those are not manipulated tears that will fall. They will be tears of emotion. Emotions that will tug at your heart and force you to feel. And when you feel, you will cry. It's just going to happen.
I walked into this film expected your typical melodramatic Hollywood film, but this movie isn't that at all. It's a film that we all can relate with and understand a great deal. When this film came out it opened the same day as Transformers 2. The classic counter-programming move. Transformers 2 will get most of the audience now, but this will be the movie that will stand the test of time.
I remember in 2005 when my Grandfather passed away at the age of 90. The oldest Toffolo to live. My uncle, who is a surgeon, had been taking care of him for years and really keeping him alive much longer than he would have if he didn't have a doctor for a son. My grandfather was my uncle's special patient and he was determined to make sure he stayed alive for as long as possible. But eventually there's the end of the line.
We have a family reunion every New Years Day and my grandfather loved this occasion. He got to see his entire creation all in one place. He moved his family from Italy in 1951 with nothing in his pocket and now his sons, grandsons and granddaughters have all prospered in this new land. He wanted to make it to his 90th Toffolo family tradition and then he knew it was his time. Three days later he passed away because he wanted to die. You can see it in his eyes when you look at the picture taken of him that day. My uncle, who gave the eulogy, was distraught and felt like a failure. It was too soon for him to understand that his father wanted to pass on.
The character Cameron Diaz plays reminded me of my uncle. They demand answers and demand to keep their loved one alive. But sometimes it's time to go. It's called death and it's all going to happen to us.