Anna Fitzgerald looks to earn medical emancipation from her parents who until now have relied on their youngest child to help their leukemia-stricken daughter Kate stay alive. We are taken on a very emotional journey with the family who have dealt with Kate having leukemia since she was 2 years old. The story is told in flashbacks to all the different things which happened over the years, this is when Anna has taken her mother to court.
Throughout the film it really does feel wrong to be watching some of the intimate moments as it all really felt real, like we were watching the family as they were going through the motions. Being in denial and trying to deal with each passing day wondering what was going to happen next. Most people can really relate to a film like this when an awful illness is involved as nearly every family has been affected by cancer or something similar now. The pain is even more real when watching this type of film. Another reason which makes this even worse is that it all happens to a girl from a very young age.
We see Kate’s life through the different stories we are told throughout the trial going on and how much she really longed to do things other children and then teenagers were doing and she just couldn’t that all really cut like a knife, knowing Kate was never really able to be a child because of her illness. Its heartbreaking when Kate makes a scrap-book documenting everything the family has done together, we start to realise she thinks she is holding them all back and that they are missing out on living their own lives because of her. It really is that heartbreaking to watch the film as you can get such an understanding of each character and really feel for them. I don’t want to spoil the ending of the court case but we do really wonder what has suddenly made Anna not want to be a donor for her sister anymore.
Performance wise I felt the cast worked so well together, and none of them were a weak link. I think this is the best performance I have seen from Cameron Diaz as the desperate mother who will not accept that her daughter is dying, and in so much pain. She is in denial about the whole thing which most parents would probably do in this situation. Abigail Breslin puts in another brilliant performance for such a young actress, she really does keep progressing as time goes by. Sofia Vassilieva was so obviously the star of the film with her role as Kate, it must have been such a difficult role to take on getting into the character. I have later read that she shaved her hair to help understand how that would feel like having your hair fall out with the disease and treatment. Evan Ellingson was Jesse, Kate’s brother who also put in a very good performance with his outbreak in the court room. Jason Patric was Kate’s father and it was through him my tears started to fall when watching this film, even though he did not say very much throughout his eyes said everything. The pain and happiness in them was very intense. I also really liked Alec Baldwin as the lawyer and Joan Cusack as the judge which really added a little extra to the film.
We experience all the different relationships in a family from mother/daughter, father/daughter, husband/wife, brother/sister, sister/sister and how a truly awful illness can help bring them together and really love and appreciate the time they have together.
While this film totally broke my heart and had me in floods of tears throughout, I really found it good at the same time. Teaching us that life can be so short, so we have to spend time with those we love around us and make the most of the time we have together.