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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 3, 2019 


Sara (Cameron Diaz) is a loving wife and mother who left her career as an attorney to care for her daughter Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), who is diagnosed with leukemia. Her husband Brian (Jason Patric) is supportive as is their son Jesse (Evan Ellingson), but it is Anna (Abigail Breslin), the child genetically conceived specifically to save Kate's life that arguably bears the greatest burden. Until now, when Anna hires her own lawyer (Alec Baldwin) to protect her body from being used against her will for Kate.

Review by Louise Keller:
Pulling at all our heartstrings, this adaptation from the director of The Notebook is a heartbreaking story about love. It's about the love of a family for each other and the complexities of the relationships within. Director Nick Cassavetes collaborates with Jeremy Leven, his screenwriter from The Notebook to deliver an acutely sensitive screenplay that explores the inexplicable. Issues of morality, determination and inevitability swirl around those of life and death, as a close knit family reaches crisis point. Keep a tissue handy - chances are you will need a box of them. This is a film where the emotional experience can be overwhelming.

Every character from Jodi Picoult's novel is troubled. How can an 11 year old child who was genetically conceived to save her sister's life bear such a burden? How can a brother watch calmly from the sidelines? How can a mother give up? And how can a husband allow any semblance of a normal life float away like a kite in the sky. What is interesting and surprising, is that the film's point of view constantly changes. As does the direction of the film's journey. Although Abigail Breslin's Anna narrates the story and is the one who hires high profile lawyer (Alec Baldwin) in a bid to become medically emancipated, we hear the inner thoughts of each member of the family.

Cameron Diaz passionately embodies Sara, the mother who refuses to accept the inevitability of her daughter's fate. It's a wonderful performance filled with pain, anger and understatement and Diaz delivers it all. Breslin is disarming as the protagonist who changes the family dynamic while Sofia Vassilieva breaks our heart as Kate, around whose illness the entire family revolves. But every character is important: Evan Ellingson as the dyslexic Jesse who never received the attention he deserved, Joan Cusack as the vulnerable judge who recently lost a daughter ('There's no shame in dying') and Alec Baldwin ('Who stands up for Anna?') as the lawyer with the dog called Judge and who has a hidden motive for taking the case.

The film flirts back and forth in different time frames, allowing us to get a complete understanding of the circumstances. There are many moments that are unforgettable, none more so than the burgeoning relationship between Kate and her first love (Thomas Dekker's Taylor Ambrose), who is a welcome drug of another sort. It's about selfish and unselfish decisions. It's about letting go. Like the painful medical procedures Anna has endured throughout her young life to keep her dying sister alive, the film is often tough going. But there's beauty in the toughness and the story raises thought provoking issues that are impossible to discard.

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(US, 2009)

CAST: Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin, Abigail Breslin, Joan Cusack

PRODUCER: Stephen Furst, Scott Goldman, Mark Johnson,Chuck Pacheco

DIRECTOR: Nick Cassavetes

SCRIPT: Jeremy Leven, Nick Cassavetes (novel by Jodi Picoult)


EDITOR: Jim Flynn, Alan Heim

MUSIC: Aaron Zigman


RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes



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