Home > Reviews > MY SISTER’S KEEPER – Aaron Zigman


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A moving family drama directed by Nick Cassavetes from the popular novel by Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper tells the story of Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin), the youngest daughter of Sara and Brian Fitzgerald (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric). The unique thing about Anna is that she was conceived solely to be a blood and tissue donor for her elder sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), who has leukemia; now, at the age of eleven and having undergone dozens of medical procedures in order to keep her sister alive, Anna seeks out successful lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin), with a view to hiring him to earn medical emancipation from her mother.

The sensitive score for My Sister’s Keeper is by Aaron Zigman, working with director Cassavetes for the third time following John Q and The Notebook. As one might expect, Zigman’s score is highly emotional, playing on the tragic circumstances of the film and the heartbreaking decisions made by the characters therein; written for a decent-sized orchestra that emphasizes strings, woodwinds and piano, but utilizes virtually no brass, Zigman starts with the solemn, tear-jerking, but undeniably beautiful “End Title”, and continues from there, never missing an opportunity to wring every possible emotion from his listeners.

The main theme – a simple, recurring three note motif – features prominently in the score, and is often accompanied by soft guitar chords, both acoustic and electric. Cues such as the “Opening”, “Looking at the Journal”, “Prom Night”, “Taylor Dies” and the poignant “The Last Goodbye” are wistful but attractive, and provide the score with a strong emotional core. Later cues such as “Visiting Relatives” and “The Courtroom” add a layer of synths and occasionally a wordless vocal behind the instruments while picking up the pace of the performance a little, giving the cues a more contemporary vibe.

In many ways, My Sister’s Keeper comes across as a blend of Gabriel Yared and Rachel Portman, combining the former’s string writing with the latter’s piano melodies, although it’s never as emotionally devastating as either of those composers can be. Fans of downbeat modern instrumental writing will find plenty to appreciate, even if the overall mood of the score is somewhat depressing.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • End Title (5:49)
  • Opening (3:14)
  • Thoughts (1:00)
  • Taylor & Anna (2:03)
  • Visiting Relatives (3:58)
  • Bloody Nose (1:05)
  • Young Kate (0:44)
  • Anna on the Floor (0:48)
  • Looking at the Journal (2:48)
  • Sorry About Kate (0:30)
  • Prom Night (2:21)
  • Taylor & Anna Talking in Bed (0:56)
  • Taylor Dies (1:19)
  • The Beach (0:50)
  • Narration (1:16)
  • The Courtroom (1:30)
  • Will You Wait For Me? (1:07)
  • The Last Goodbye (3:04)

Running Time: 34 minutes 22 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6977 (2009)

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