My mother is going to hate this review. In fact, I can guarantee that most women will hate this review. Of the several hundred ladies that attended the screening for My Sister’s Keeper, I would estimate that 85% left the cinema in tears. They will tell their friends that the film is beautiful and one of the saddest, loveliest motion pictures they have ever seen. And hey, that’s their completely valid opinion. But if you are one of those ladies, I recommend you stop reading this review. You are not going to like me very much by the end of it.

Now, I’m just going to come out and say it: My Sister’s Keeper is an evil, evil film. It grabs a hold of its audience and confronts them with horrific images of young children dying of cancer; vomiting blood; losing their hair; trying to kill themselves; weeping constantly. But this isn’t emotional, or touching, or even real. It’s misery-porn of the lowest degree. “Look how awful it is to die!” the film screams at us. “Even children suffer to the last breath!” it howls. This film doesn’t have a heart. It has a blackened husk fueled by dollar bills. My Sister’s Keeper is a committee-approved nerve-snapper that, much like its main character, has been genetically engineered to MAKE! YOU! CRY!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The film tells the story of sisters Anna (Abigail Breslin) and Kate (Sofia Vassilieva). Kate is dying of cancer, and she needs a kidney if she wants to see her 15th birthday. Parents Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian (Jason Patric) have known this since Kate was only five years old – which is why they genetically engineered a daughter to be a perfect match for that all-important transplant. The thing is, Anna doesn’t want to undergo the procedure. It seems that Anna loves Kate with all of her heart … just not with all of her kidney. The film’s climax takes place in a courtroom, because as we all know, unoriginal films must conclude in a courtroom. Anna hires slick attorney Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) to sue her parents for ‘medical emancipation’ and free her from their bizarre birth pact. Before we get to that point however, the audience must endure a dumbfounding 90 minutes of soul-crushing tragedy.

Now, soul-crushing tragedy isn’t inherently bad; but when it is constructed as manipulatively as it is in this film, it’s inexcusable. Moments of joy are almost immediately juxtaposed with moments of intense gloom, seemingly just to enhance the awfulness of the latter situation. Characters are introduced just so they can die and illicit yet another scene in which the main character’s weep. Observe the Judge presiding over the case played by Joan Cusack –why are we told that her daughter is recently deceased? Just so another character can mention it and make her cry? Is this what we accept in place of reasonable character interaction these days?

The performances in the film are actually pretty great, most notably young Breslin and Vassilieva. They are spared my vitriol. My sights are set on the man behind all the manipulation: director Nick Cassavettes. I haven’t seen his most famous film, The Notebook, but every woman I meet seems to love it more than their actual partners. Needless to say, I’ve been preventing my girlfriend from seeing it for the past three years. His handling of the source material is so heavy-handed and overbearing, I half expected him to jump into frame and start showing us pictures of starving third-world babies.

And speaking of the source material – I haven’t been so terrified in a cinema as I was when the opening credits revealed that My Sister’s Keeper is based on a book by Jodi Picoult. Nooo! Anyone but Jodi Picoult! Seriously, I’d take Stephanie Meyer over Jodi Picoult any day. The film is full of the lazy story-telling that has made Picoult a joke in the literary world. For example, the movie has five narrators. Five narrators!? Any filmmaker worth their salt knows they should show and not tell. My Sister’s Keeper features five of the main characters talking about how much they love each other and are so sad all the time. Heaven forbid we actually see them talking or relating to one another; whenever they start to, they’re overdubbed by the freaking narration.

I’d like to get back to the film’s core problem – its blackened husk of a heart. Just because a movie is about such a horrible, family-destroying illness as cancer doesn’t make it manipulative. Terminal illnesses have touched pretty much everyone’s life, and every subject, no matter how upsetting, deserves to be discussed in an intelligent forum. Cinema is no exception. However, My Sister’s Keeper has nothing to say about cancer, except that it’s really, really awful. Cassavettes attempts to tag onto the very end of the film a moralistic lesson about appreciating the time we have while we’re alive. That’s hard to buy when the main characters spend Kate’s dying days planning for one of history’s most contrived court-cases.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t reluctant about posting this review. The last time I eviscerated a film about illness and organ donation, readers threatened to donate my testicles – and against my will no less. But I’m just going to have to deal with the potential backlash, because I truly believe that this film is not only bad, but bad for society. Rich Hollywood honchos have bought the rights to a lazy-Jodi Picoult novel with a built-in audience, handed it over to a director known for making weepies, and hired a talented cast to really sell the awfulness. Most despicably, it hinges its success on the hopes that the film will inspire a pavlovian response from the audience, who will remember the time they were confronted with a horrible illness, and break them down into tears. And just to reiterate – sorry mum.