Books to Movie Challenge 2011: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Apologies for the slightly distracted manner of this review – I’m half watching How to Steal a Million, that old film with Audrey Hepburn. They’re trying to recover a fake Cellini statue they presented to a museum before it comes out that it’s fake. After my recent Cellini obsession (see my review of The Medusa Amulet) I kind of had to see it. But anyway, on to the film I should be talking about.

Don’t worry, I haven’t turned traitor – I’m still a book reviewer. But I’m taking part in Two Bibliomaniacs‘ Book to Movie Challenge and this is my second entry. My review of My Sister’s Keeper BOOK is here.

So.  The book (which I loved) and the film (which I did not) have some major, major differences. Most obviously, the entire tone of the story has been changed. The book focuses on Anna Fitzgerald – her trial and her heartbreak over what she’s doing to her sister. The movie is more about Kate; Anna barely features. It’s all about her battle with cancer, and her relationships and her childhood… it feels like a BBC Cancer documentary. 

Then there’s the ending, or lack thereof. I adored the book version and was overwhelmed when it happened as I never saw it coming. So naturally, that’s a really great reason to COMPLETELY SCRAP IT FROM THE MOVIE. I’ve just been looking on various forums and most people are astounded and annoyed that they changed it. I’m not going to say what does happen, but it’s again, so generic without it. I just don’t understand why they’d do that – it destroys the entire point of the story. So between the Kate-centered story and the altered ending, it becomes a whole lot less unique – it’s just another child-with-Cancer movie.

I’m not saying that all changes from the book are bad, but some of them just don’t make any sense to me. They’ve cut out Julia completely, the guardian ad litem that’s supposed to look out for Anna’s best interests as an impartial observer, and massively chopped out Alexander Campbell’s (the lawyer) scenes too. That’s a shame because Alec Baldwin actually did very well. It really does seem like they tried to cut down the legal aspects, but then what’s the point of the film?

When I first saw the posters I expected Cameron Diaz to be cast as Julia and could kind of accept it. But apparently someone decided to cast her as Sara Fitzgerald, the haggard, emotion mother who tries to force one child into giving up a kidney for the other. I’m not a fan of Ms Diaz – I never have been and I doubt I ever will be. But you know what? She really was excellent in this film. She wasn’t afraid to go bald for the role and acts Sara with the perfect balance of compassion and belligerence. It’s not easy to change my opinion when I already have an irriational hatred (as is so often the case), but she managed here.

Less impressive was Abigail Breslin as Anna Fitzgerald. I’d heard she was good, and it surprised me when she… well, wasn’t. I just don’t see Anna being that chipper. Her sister’s dying, she’s facing a huge legal battle and her family’s barely speaking to her, yet she still feels upbeat enough to act out Alexander Campbell’s advert campaign in his office. She was way too happy and comes across as a petulant, whiny child throughout.

Finally, as a very minor irritation (here comes that irrational hatred thing…), all three siblings call each other ‘sissy.’ Why? Why!? I’m almost positive nobody actually does that in real life and it just sounds forced and fake.

*breathes slowly*

Obviously I’m not a massive fan. The casting choices were almost perfect, it’s just the writers that needed to be shot. To me, it’s not even the same story. With most of the legal aspects cut out, it defeats the entire purpose of Jodi Picoult’s book.


  1. Belle says:

    Great review. I liked the movie, but I haven't read the book, and was surprised when I was told about the different endings. To me, having only seen the movie, its ending sounds much more realistic to me, but as I said I haven't read the book so I don't know exactly how it works there.

  2. Good review. I have yet to watch the movie because I heard of all the changes.

  3. Hanna says:

    @Belle – I think that was my problem; the movie was TOO realistic. I accept that the book ends in a way that just wouldn't happen in real life, but then I was reading it to be entertained, not educated.

    I think it's a good film, but NOT if you've read the book first!

    @Kristin – I hadn't heard of all the changes so it took me by surprise! Maybe you'll like it more as you'll know what to expect.

  4. Jillian says:

    There were a lot of changes!! BUT! I thought it was a good stand-alone film. If we try not to think about the book it was based on, I think it would be a good one. I actually liked how the movie went to be honest. It was more realistic to me for some reason.

  5. Hanna says:

    @Jillian – I'm not sure if I'd have liked the film if I hadn't read the book… I think I'd definitely have liked it MORE, at any rate. But it seemed a little generic and boring without the legal aspects. You're right, it was more realistic, but sometimes I want to escape and just be entertained!

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