My Sister's Keeper (film)

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 2004 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.

My Sister's Keeper
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNick Cassavetes
Produced byStephen Furst
Scott Goldman
Mark Johnson
Chuck Pacheco
Mendel Tropper
Screenplay byJeremy Leven
Nick Cassavetes
Based onMy Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult
StarringCameron Diaz
Abigail Breslin
Alec Baldwin
Jason Patric
Sofia Vassilieva
Joan Cusack
Music byAaron Zigman
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Edited byJim Flynn
Alan Heim
New Line Cinema
Curmudgeon Films
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • June 26, 2009 (2009-06-26)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million
Box office$95.7 million


Kate Fitzgerald has acute promyelocytic leukemia. When her parents, firefighter Brian and lawyer Sara, and older brother Jesse are not a genetic match, Dr. Chance, becomes her main doctor, suggests designer in vitro fertilization. This results in the birth of Anna as a savior sister. Right from birth (her umbilical cord), Anna spends the next 11 years donating compatible organs, blood, stem cells and tissue to help Kate. Anna has suffered a life of hospitalizations, growth hormone injections, opioid painkillers, sleeping pills, bleeding and infections. Brian loves Anna dearly, and has felt bad about having her constantly donate parts of her body to Kate, while Sara loves Kate more than she does Anna and has never felt bad about having her help Kate.

Kate, now 15, goes into renal failure and Anna knows that she will be forced by her parents to donate one of her kidneys. Anna also realizes that having one kidney means that her life will be restricted – she will not be able to play sports, drink alcohol, have children, and will be threatened if her remaining kidney ever has an issue. Anna tells her parents that she does not want to be a donor and sues them for medical emancipation and the rights to her own body. Her father, Brian, understands her, though her domineering mother, Sara, who leads an obsessive campaign to keep Kate alive, is indignant at her decision. Attorney Campbell Alexander agrees to work for Anna as her guardian ad litem, suing for partial termination of parental rights. Campbell has epilepsy, making him extra sympathetic to her predicament.

Flashbacks detail Kate and Anna's close relationship, as well as how Kate's illness has affected Jesse, who has run away from his summer camp. Flashbacks include Kate meeting a fellow cancer patient, Taylor, whom she begins dating. He asks her to the hospital's prom for teen patients; there, they slow-dance, then have sex. A few days later, Kate is upset that she has not seen Taylor since the dance. She learns that Taylor has died and attempts suicide by overdosing on painkillers, but Anna stops her. Kate expresses hope that after she dies, she will see Taylor.

Kate makes a request to go to the beach one last time. Brian obtains permission and discharges her from the hospital for the day. Sara overreacts and demands that Kate be returned to the hospital immediately. Brian angrily refuses and threatens 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, Jesse reveals that Anna is actually acting under Kate's instruction; Kate, not wanting to live any longer, had persuaded Anna to refuse to donate her kidney. Anna had wanted to give Kate her kidney and had been upset at Kate's decision. Sara is finally forced to acknowledge what Kate has been trying to tell her all this time: she is ready to die. Later that day, Kate dies in her sleep, with her mother by her side. After her death, Campbell states that Anna has 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". She 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.



Upon the original creation of the film adaptation, sisters Dakota 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]


Critical response

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 48% of reviews for the film were positive, based on 136 reviews, with an average rating of 5.54/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "My Sister's Keeper gets fine performances from its adult and child actors, but the director's heavy-handed approach turns a worthy emotional subject into an overly melodramatic tearjerker."[4] Another aggregate review site Metacritic reported 51% positive reviews based on 28 reviews.[5]

Box office

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. "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 April 30, 2019.
  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 -". Retrieved January 15, 2019.
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