My Sister's Keeper (film)

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My Sister's Keeper
My sisters keeper poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nick Cassavetes
Produced by Stephen Furst
Scott Goldman
Mark Johnson
Chuck Pacheco
Mendel Tropper
Screenplay by Jeremy Leven
Nick Cassavetes
Based on My Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult
Starring Cameron Diaz
Abigail Breslin
Sofia Vassilieva
Alec Baldwin
Jason Patric
David Thornton
Emily Deschanel
E.G. Daily
Lin Shaye
and Joan Cusack
Music by Aaron Zigman
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by Jim Flynn
Alan Heim
Curmudgeon Films
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • June 26, 2009 (2009-06-26)
Running time
109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $95.7 million

My Sister's Keeper is a 2009 American drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes and starring Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vassilieva, Jason Patric, and Alec Baldwin. Based on Jodi Picoult's novel of the same name,[1] on June 26, 2009 the film was released to cinemas in the United States,[2] Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.


Kate Fitzgerald (Sofia Vassilieva) suffers from acute promyelocytic leukemia. Conceived by means of in vitro fertilization, her younger sister Anna (Abigail Breslin) was brought into the world as a savior sister at the informal suggestion of Kate's doctor, Dr. Chance (David Thornton). She is a genetic match to her older sister and can therefore donate compatible organs, blood, and tissue to help her. Her family members are introduced one by one, and each tells about how Kate's illness has affected them personally. When Kate turns 15, she goes into renal failure and 11-year old Anna knows that she will be forced by her parents to donate one of her kidneys. She also realizes that she may not be able to live the life she will want to lead – she will not be able play any sports, drink alcohol, or be a mother in the future. Anna tells her parents that she does not want to be a donor and proceeds to sue them for medical emancipation and the rights to her own body. Her father Brian (Jason Patric) sees Anna's point, though her domineering mother, Sara (Cameron Diaz), who leads an obsessive campaign to keep Kate alive, is indignant at Anna's decision when she receives the notice of court proceedings. Attorney Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) agrees to work for Anna as her guardian ad litem, suing for partial termination of parental rights. It is later learned he agreed to take the case – not for the notoriety, but because he suffers from epilepsy, and is genuinely sympathetic to her predicament because he also understands how it feels to have no control over his body. Both Sara and Alexander tell their side of the story to the judge (Joan Cusack), who had recently lost her young daughter, something Sara inadvertently mentions. To Sara's dismay, the judge decides against summary dismissal, and the case goes to a hearing.

The film is interlaced with flashbacks that detail Kate and Anna's close relationship, as well as how Kate's illness has affected her siblings' lives and their relationships. In a flashback, Kate also meets a fellow cancer patient, Taylor Ambrose (Thomas Dekker), whom she begins dating. After a date, they kiss outside Kate's house, with Sara and Kate's father Brian watching from their bedroom window. After this, he becomes her boyfriend in and out of hospital and supports her as she undergoes treatment. He then asks her to the hospital's "prom" for teen patients; there, they slow-dance, then proceed to a vacant hospital room. A few days later, Kate begins to worry as she has not seen Taylor since the dance. In anger, she reveals to Sara that they had sex. Kate subsequently learns that Taylor has died and later attempts suicide by overdosing on painkillers, but Anna stops her. Kate later expresses hope that after she dies, she will see Taylor wherever she ends up.

Kate makes a request to go to the beach one last time. Brian obtains permission and compassionate encouragement, from Dr. Chance, who claims she is "no more sick there", to do so. Brian discharges her from the hospital for the day and takes her and the kids to the beach. When Brian arrives home to pick everyone up, Sara overreacts and demands that Kate be returned to the hospital immediately, arguing that bringing her to the beach is effectively "killing her". Brian angrily refuses and drives off, threatening Sara with a divorce if she does not join them. Sara shows up at the beach, where they enjoy one final family outing.

During the hearing, Anna and Kate's brother, Jesse, reveals while Anna is on the witness stand that Anna is actually acting under Kate's instruction; Kate, not wanting to live any longer and be a detriment to her family, had gently persuaded Anna to refuse to donate her kidney, knowing that Sara would be too narrow-minded to listen to her. It also emerges that Anna had wanted to give Kate her kidney of her own accord, and had been terribly upset at Kate's decision. Sara is indignant and attempts to argue, but is finally forced by both Jesse and Brian to realize that Kate has been trying to tell her she is ready to die for some time. The judge makes a request to visit Kate in the hospital before finalizing the case. Later that day, as the remainder of the family leave, Kate gifts her mother with a memory book she has made over the years and later dies while sleeping at the hospital with her mother by her side. After Kate's death, Campbell brings the court decision: Anna won the case. The family moves on with their lives. Sara, who gave up practicing law to look after Kate, returns to work, Brian retires from firefighting and counsels troubled youths, and Jesse receives an arts scholarship in New York. Anna reveals that every year on Kate's birthday they go to Montana, which was her "most favorite place in the world". Anna concludes that she was not born merely to save her sister, she was born because she had a sister, and that their relationship continues even in death.

Production and cast changes[edit]

Upon the original creation of the film adaptation, sisters Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning were cast to play Kate and Anna respectively. However, when Dakota heard that she would be required to shave her head for the role, she dropped out of the film as then did Elle. The two sisters were replaced, with Abigail Breslin taking on the lead role as Anna Fitzgerald and Sofia Vassilieva on the role of Kate Fitzgerald.[3]


  • Abigail Breslin as Anna Fitzgerald, Kate and Jesse's eleven-year-old younger sister.
  • Cameron Diaz as Sara Fitzgerald, Kate, Anna and Jesse's overprotective mother, and Brian's domineering wife.
  • Sofia Vassilieva as Kate Fitzgerald, a teenage girl suffering from acute Leukemia. She is reason her younger sister, Anna, was engineered.
    • Olivia Hancock as Young Kate Fitzgerald
  • Jason Patric as Brian Fitzgerald, Kate, Jesse and Anna's father, Sara's husband.
  • Chris Kinkade as Dr. Nguyen
  • David Thornton as Dr. Chance
  • Evan Ellingson as Jesse Fitzgerald, younger brother of Kate, who is dyslexic.
    • Brennan Bailey as Young Jesse Fitzgerald
    • Paul Christopher Butler as Three-year-old Jesse
  • Alec Baldwin as Campbell Alexander
  • E.G. Daily as Nurse Susan
  • Lin Shaye as Nurse Adele
  • Joan Cusack as Judge De Salvo
  • Heather Wahlquist as 'Aunt Kelly, Sara's sister and Kate, Jesse and Anna's maternal aunt.
  • Thomas Dekker as Taylor Ambrose, Kate's boyfriend/lover who died from unknown causes.
  • Emily Deschanel as Dr. Farquad


Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 47% of reviews for the film were positive, based on 126 reviews.[4] Another aggregate review site Metacritic reported 51% positive reviews based on 28 reviews.[5]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend it placed 5th with a total of $12,442,212, behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Proposal (second weekend), The Hangover (fourth weekend), and Up (fifth weekend).[6] The film left theatres on October 8, 2009 with a domestic total of $49,200,230 with a further $46,459,927 from foreign markets. It has grossed $95,660,157 worldwide.[2]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2009 Teen Choice Award Choice Summer Movie Drama My Sister's Keeper Won[7]
2009 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actress in Motion Picture Cameron Diaz Won
2010 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Abigail Breslin Won
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Actor Brennan Bailey Nominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Actress Sofia Vassilieva Won



TV spot:



  1. ^ Fleming, Michael (February 12, 2008). "Breslin, Vassilieva to star in 'Keeper'. Duo replaces Fanning sisters in New Line film". Variety. Retrieved February 13, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "My Sister's Keeper (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Dakota Fanning Steps Down From 'My Sister's Keeper' Role". February 13, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ "My Sister's Keeper". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 7, 2009. 
  5. ^ "My Sister's Keeper (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. 
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 26–28, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  7. ^ Teen Choice Awards winners

External links[edit]