My Sister's Keeper

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My Sister's Keeper

Three of Jodi Picoult’s novels have already been adapted for Lifetime; Nick Cassavetes is best known for The Notebook. So naked bathos-mongering is what people will come to My Sister’s Keeper for, and the film mostly delivers. After Kate (Vassilieva) was diagnosed with leukemia as a child, her parents engineered Anna (Breslin) in vitro to be her perfect genetic match for surplus bone marrow, kidneys, etc. Now the younger kid wants out, and she’s willing to sue for “medical emancipation.” The family rips down the middle, with Anna and Dad (Jason Patric) on one side and the insanely devoted mom, Sara (Diaz), on the other decrying Anna’s “selfishness.”

Picoult’s fashioned herself as a conversation-starter about genetics and medical ethics, but her lurid scenario is basically nonsense. Cassavetes has unexpectedly toned down the over-the-top series of twists from the novel’s last third, though restraint is still a relative concept. The tearjerking is mostly along the sister-sister and mother-daughter axes, aside from a 15-minute romance Kate has with a fellow patient. (Notebook fans should love the immortal line “If I didn’t have cancer, I’d never have met you.”) Diaz is a whiny nonfactor, but typically sharp supporting work from Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack make the proceedings tolerable for long-suffering boyfriends.—Vadim Rizov

Opens Fri.

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