by Corey Hall
Voiceover narration is the surest sign of desperation, so imagine a movie with seven narrators, all struggling to resuscitate author Jodi Picoult's deathly purple prose and let it breathe onscreen. This adaptation of the weepy bestseller excels at maudlin histrionics, in the tale of a girl (Abigail Breslin) born and bred to be a living donor for her cancer-stricken older sister, who after a decade of being poked and prodded finally sues for her medical emancipation, and for the rights to her own body.
What may be an acceptable novel on a bedside nightstand is hard to take when it's a bigger-than-life film; the premise is intriguing but any burning legal or ethical questions get stuck in sticky sap.
Where Dad was a master of grit and realism, director Nick Cassavetes has a gift for gloss and phony melodrama. As strong as his compositions can be, the pacing is sluggish, and emotional should-be-earnest moments are buried in pop music so drippy it'd make the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack puke.
No help is cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who filters everything through warm streams of gossamer light — so even pasty makeup has an angelic sheen.
The actors do their best to overcome: Alec Baldwin is fun as a Geoffrey Fieger-like lawyer, and Cameron Diaz is fierce as the girl's relentless mother, protective as a grizzly defending her cubs. Breslin is a solid little actress who is, hopefully, skilled enough to grow through the impending awkward phase.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.