This film might look out of place to anyone who knows me personally. Believe me, I’m not a tear jerker person. I even laughed during Titanic. But I stumbled upon this film and found myself enjoying it due to the amazing performances and excellent filmmaking. And if you’re in doubt, I have a friend who (in between watching porn) told me he loved The Notebook. Any questions? Nope, let’s go then.
Our main character is Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) who was genetically engineered to act as a perfect donor for her sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) who has leukaemia. Over the years Anna has been forced to donate bone marrow, lymphocites and now at age 11, her parents want her to donate a kidney to her sister. Anna decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation so they can’t force her to donate the kidney.
As I said above, the performances in this film are excellent. Abigail Breslin is just a treat to watch and is truly among the cream of the crop in terms of young actors. Hell, she’s made several amazing films and she’s not even eighteen yet. Other fine young actors in the cast are Sofia Vassilieva (whom you may recognise from Medium) and Evan Ellingson playing Anna’s siblings. Sofia really brings Kate to life and makes her exist as an actual person as opposed to “the kid who has cancer” while Evan is able to convey the proper emotion needed for the forgotten child who is almost always ignored by his parents. Speaking of the parents, all I can say about Cameron Diaz is wow (about the performance I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink). Here she isn’t the same smiley fun loving character she usually is (I wasn’t sure she was aware any other characters existed) but her Sara Fitzgerald is a hardnosed mother fighting for her daughter’s life. That’s an admirable quality except she’s also emotionally abusive to Anna, using emotional blackmail and is more concerned with keeping Kate healthy than actually making sure if the girl’s happy or not. It’s an interesting switch to see the father being the reasonable one.
Alec Baldwin is also featured as Campbell Alexander, the layer Anna hires. He bounces off Cameron Diaz very well during their conversation scenes, making the court scenes some of the most interesting to watch. A small but significant role, a one-scene-wonder if you will, goes to Joan Cusack who plays the judge presiding over Anna’s case. She really shines in this film and I can’t believe neither she nor Diaz got an Oscar nod.
As I said earlier, the court room scenes are great to watch and Cameron Diaz acts her ass off when she is being interrogated by Campbell, as does Anna when her mother is interrogating her. The film is also full of other nice little scenes like the family’s final day out together where they take Kate to the beach. Sara flatly refuses to allow it to happen and tries to stop them going. Brian hilariously threatens a divorce if she doesn’t come and Sara shows up later. The film also has some nice comedy scenes like where Kate uses apple juice to substitute a urine sample and the banter between her and her boyfriend Taylor (Thomas Dekker, aka John Connor for this generation). The film’s script is really well written and it gives each character their own fully developed personality.
Now for some positive criticisms; the main flaw of the film is that there are way too many musical montages (no this film is not a musical, though that would be interesting to see. Tim Burton, get on that) like the aforementioned beach scene. About two minutes before that, there is a montage of Anna getting taken out of school for the day. It can get a little annoying sometimes. There’s also an annoying case with the character Jesse. He doesn’t really get enough focus and that makes the whole “he turned his life around” line in the end sequence sound a bit odd. All he’s shown doing is hanging out in the city at night.
Now for the big issue for most fans is the ending. Now the way the book ended (spoilers, duh) is with Anna winning her case and then getting hit by a car on the way home. She is declared brain dead and her organs are harvested for Kate, who goes into remission. The film however has Kate dying with dignity and Anna living. If I’m being honest, I think the book’s ending sucks. It’s an awful way to end the story and I feel that the ending in the movie is much more satisfying. Kate got to live for sixteen years and now Anna will be treated better by her mother. Indeed the ending sequence is beautiful to watch and Abigail Breslin makes quite the narrator. Maybe she’ll take over when Morgan Freeman retires?
So that’s it for today and believe it or not, that won’t be the only chick flick on my list. Well, that’s all up to your interpretation as to what qualifies as a chick flick. I’ll let you decide. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.