Here’s a question for you. Suppose, on your way to work, you were walking across a bridge, and saw someone jump in. You’d go in after them, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. It’s the only decent thing to do. Now imagine you walk over that bridge every day, and every day you see the same person jump in the river. How many times would you go in after him? When would you decide to take a different route to work?
This is the ethical question at the center of “My Sister’s Keeper.” A teenage girl has leukemia, and her younger sister(Abigail Breslin) keeps saving her life–she has undergone 8 major surgeries by the time she is 11, when she decides enough is enough. Her mother, played with one shrill note by Cameron Diaz, won’t take no for an answer, and Breslin sues for “medical emancipation.” A court case ensues, in which Diaz defends her right to force her daughter to give up a kidney.
It’s a pretty awful movie– full of dull voiceover and clunky dialogue, constantly beating us over the head with things that ought to be suggested, punctuated by Cameron Diaz’s toothless scene-chewing (scene-gumming?)– but it’s an interesting ethical question. Too bad “My Sister’s Keeper” backs away from it, devolving (via a plot twist in the middle) into the standard argument about euthanasia. It would’ve been better if it had stuck to its guns. Personally, I don’t think Diaz has the right to force her daughter to undergo dangerous and painful surgeries, but I wonder if Breslin would be able to stand by and watch her sister die so that she can be in cheerleading and lead a “normal” life.
Actually, that might make a good backstory for a more interesting movie. I’d like to meet this girl when the’s 35 or 40 – she’s lived her life, had her fun, and has had to live with the fact, probably every day, that she chose not to save her sister’s life. Who is that person? How does she live with herself? What does she remember–the good times with her sister, or the good times without her? That’s a movie I’d like to see.