"My Sister's Keeper" and implications - reviewed by Amanda Gunn and Samuel LaBarge

March 6, 2012 | by City of Hope

Amanda GunnSamuel LaBargeIs this a good movie or a bad movie? "My Sister's Keeper" delves into the experiences of cancer patients and their families. It is hard to say whether this movie was good or bad, but the experiences portrayed within appeared accurate.

First, there is the diagnosis. A young girl, Kate, from a typical family develops leukemia. In the plot of this movie, families have the opportunity to create designer babies for perfect matches when diseases arise. It is hard not to want to cure your most precious creation, but how could any parent have another child only to destroy that child for the sake of an existing child?   

Next, the movie showed the life of the family as they grow.  Anna, Kate’s sister, is born into a seemingly normal family.  It is a close family.  They laugh, they play, and they are interrupted by uncontrollable nosebleeds.  There are scenes that portray the minute details associated with the everyday life of cancer patients. The moments seem real and reach deep into the viewer’s heart. The movie portrays how the fear for oneself is like nothing that can be explained, yet it is always overshadowed by the fear for one’s family. The designer daughter oscillates between freedom and a responsibility to keep her sister alive.

Kate’s life is marked by a constant struggle with her illness.  The movie progresses to when she is 15 years old and has fallen in love with a fellow patient.  All too soon, he passes away.  Her first chance at falling in love is stripped away by cancer.

Scenes progress, and Kate has had enough; she is ready to die. She wants Anna to refuse to donate her kidney, a transplant that would save Kate’s life. A day at the beach, some time with loved ones, just to enjoy their last moments is all they want. Those moments come to pass for the family, but soon the family says goodbye to the young woman whom they have spent over a decade fighting to save. This contrived acceptance dissolves into shock when such a precious life is lost.    The movie’s message seemingly is, “Eventually, it is time to let go.” Fight for life as long as you can, but the day will come when it is time to say goodbye. This movie represents the basic feelings that many families find on a daily basis: The good, the bad, the way the good makes the bad more horrifying; the combination of love and fear; the feeling of absolute helplessness that drives you to insanity.

It is heart wrenching. If you have not been through it, you will not be able to appreciate the true-to-form emotional journey.  If you have been through it, you will not want to experience it again.


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