Friday, July 17, 2009

"My Sister's Keeper" - The Ultimate Tearjerker Chick Flick?? (In theaters now)

Trust me, as Esther and I looked around the theater to find descent seats, the fact that I was going to be the one and only guy in this audience was not lost on me. Now, Dear Essie-Mae has dragged me to many a "Chick-Flick" over the years but this had never happened before. The only guy in the theater, "Wow, this is awkward" I thought to myself. I could also tell by some of the looks I was getting, that my presence was not particularly welcome either. It was as if I was invading on their turf or detracting from their women only time. Some of them tried to conceal from my view the big boxes of Kleenex they had come prepared with. ( This movies reputation for being a tearjerker was obviously being heeded.) An audience filled with women, ladies and yes, lots of young teenage girls; and apparently all made a bit uncomfortable by my presence.

I can remember thinking, maybe if I swish it up a little bit, it will put them more at ease. Perhaps Esther and I could break into a "Will & Grace" routine and then my presence might be more tolerable. (Strange isn't it, the plight of the male homosexual, always having to either "Butch it up" or "Swish it up" just to have their presence tolerated.) Anyway, I looked to Esther for some guidance in this but she seemed oblivious to my predicament. She was far more concerned that a group of young giggling girls was already occupying our favorite seats. She shook her head in utter disgust and gave them one of those disapproving school teacher looks. Esther too, can be very territorial. (It occurred to me that Esther would've made a great Nun, save the fact that she's Jewish, of course.)

The worst part of all this, was that I couldn't figure out a way to blame my discomfort and feelings of vicissitude on Esther. After-all, I was the one who chose this film. You see, we take turns picking movies from week to week, and this was my week, my pick, and therefore all my fault. Fact is, Esther didn't seem to thrilled about my selection from the get go. But trust me, had it turned out to be a complete disaster, I'm sure I would've found an angle. (It's a guy thing, you know.)

Anyway in defense of my choice, I can only say that I had just seen a fascinating Cameron Diaz interview with Bill Maher and I was further intrigued when I heard about plot changes between the book and the movie.

As it turns out, "My Sister's Keeper" proved to be an excellent film with an absolutely brilliant cast. No, this is not a weepy, predictable, manipulating tearjerker, as some critics have stated. True, it is an emotional movie that deals with some sensitive issues like "Death" (& dying) and "Life" (& living), but it's hardly one of those silly "Lifetime" tearjerkers that attempts to make you cry on cue, every chance it gets. In fact, if there were such cues, I must have missed them.

Not that I have anything against tearjerkers, like Bette Davis "I Adore Cheap Sentiment". It's just that this - wasn't that. I never reached for my hankie (popcorn napkin), not even once.

I actually found the film to be more serious than emotional. A poignant piece, maybe, but one that deals with timely topics. Genetic engineering for example, like it or not it's here and it's here to stay. The movie opens for discussion the many legal, ethical and moral issues that will no doubt become more relevant and common place, as time and science progress. Granted the film fails to explore these topics with any great depth, but the fact that it raises them at all, is in my book, a good thing.

Speaking of books, a word of caution here. If you were a fan of the best selling novel by Jodi Picoult you may be very disappointed with this film. My best advice is to forget about the book, it's story line and plot. There are many changes here, especially the ending. While I won't spoil the film for anyone by exposing those differences. I will say that the books ending had an unexpected twist which was a bit more powerful and maybe even shocking. The movie's ending, on the other hand, was a bit more predictable, less contrived and perhaps therefore, more appropriate; but that's not really a debate I wish to engage in, here.

So try and watch the movie anew, free of any preconceived notions and or expectations. If you can do that, a tall order I know, I think you'll be a fan of both the movie and novel, in their own right.

Both Essie-Mae and I agreed on this one - 3and 3/4 Stars (if not 4) out of 5 - with stunning and powerful performances by Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack. Honorable mention to Sofia Vassilieva, Evan Ellingson, Jason Patric, Thomas Dekker and Heather Wahlquist. Direction: Nick Cassavetes; Screenplay: Jeremy Leven and N. Cassavetes; Based (loosely) on the book by Jodi Picoult.

    Just Thinking...

For a preview of "My Sister's Keeper" click on link...

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  1. I will definitely keep this movie in mind. Probably not until it's on DVD though! Don't get out to the movies much anymore...

  2. esther, aka essie maeJuly 29, 2009 at 12:46 PM

    "My Sister's Keeper"was a really good movie and I, too< am glad that it ended as it did. Eddie's right... I was completely oblivious to the reactions of the rest of the audience. I'm not all that sensitive. Back to the movie. Much of it was beautifully done, with especially poingnant performances done by the teenaged actors. Abigail Breslin is turning into a very fine actor and does some terrific work in this film. I didn't expect much out of this movie, but was most pleasantly surprised.