My Sister’s Keeper: The Movie

On the subject of the movie adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper…

The other day I had a conversation with a friend which turned to books; specifically, Jodi Picoult. Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised and excited when they said that they’d enjoyed the storyline of My Sister’s Keeper… but my joy turned to revulsion upon hearing the next few words:

“Of course, I haven’t read the book yet but the movie was really interesting.”

I’m sure many of you who’ve read the book and perhaps heard of/watched the movie will agree with my sentiments here. Personally, I was so angry at what they’d done to the characters and the plot that I wasn’t able to watch the last scene, and I turned my laptop off as soon as I realized what they’d decided was a good conclusion (spoiler alert: it was a terrible conclusion.)

Perhaps the decision to change the ages of the characters (Anna was made younger) and the gender (the judge is supposed to be a male) wouldn’t have bothered me as much if they were the only faults committed. After all, similar stories in writing and in a video can evoke different emotions, and perhaps the directors had hoped to convey more of a mother-daughter relationship by constantly referring back to the characters’ family relations with each other.

HOWEVER: all these minor changes would’ve been acceptable had they not changed the ending of the plot and essentially corrupted the main themes that Picoult was trying to communicate to her readers. (The next few bits are going to be spoilers, so if you’re interested in reading the book or watching the movie, I recommend you stop here and come back to read it once you have your own opinion to corroborate my writing with). But the decision to kill Kate instead of Anna, and advertise the message that “we were all hoping for a miracle that didn’t happen” changed the essential emotion and reasoning behind writing the book in the first place; whilst Picoult was trying to show that death is unpredictable and underline that the sisters’ emotions bound them together so closely that one was willing to die for the life of another, the movie simplified it much further into showing that their ploy worked but Kate was still the one that died- it took away all the surprise that astounded me while I read the book, leaving the book as an idealized and perfect version of the story and leaving the movie a bitter aftertaste in my mind.

Of course, there are many other small changes in the movie that differ from the book, but that’s just how movie adaptations work out – some other examples of this would be The Lightning Thief and Avatar, the Last Airbender where due to lack of time and/or resources the plots were changed so far as to make them unrecognizable.

The book itself is an amazing work of art which speaks of the emotional relationship of two sisters, and how the threat of leukemia faced by one since a young age slowly begins to tear their family apart as stress and anger both rise along with the inescapable dread of death. If any of you have read My Sister’s Keeper, or watched the movie and enjoyed it, I’d love to see your opinions in the comments below.

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