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Pieces of April (2003)

Cast: Katie Holmes, Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, more...
Director: Peter Hedges, Peter Hedges
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: MGM
Genre: Independent, Dysfunctional Families
Running Time: 80 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

Novelist and screenwriter Peter Hedges makes his directorial debut with the comedy drama Pieces of April. Family outcast April Burns (Katie Holmes) lives in a beat-up apartment in New York's Lower East Side with her boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke). In order to spend some time with her dying mother, Joy (Patricia Clarkson), April invites her conservative suburban family to her place for a Thanksgiving feast. She discovers that her oven is broken the morning of the big day, so she goes around her tenement building trying to find a sympathetic neighbor with a working oven. Though she doesn't know them, neighbors Eugene (Isiah Whitlock) and Evette (Lillias White) offer the use of their oven, but only for an hour. While she frantically tries to complete the meal, the family drives in from Pennsylvania sharing less-than-pleasant opinions about April's lifestyle. Dad Jim (Oliver Platt) tries to think positively, while daughter Beth (Alison Pill) flaunts her good-girl status and son Timmy (John Gallagher Jr.) captures it all on film. Shot with digital video, Pieces of April is a project of the Independent Film Channel's InDigEnt production company. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Staff Pick: What could be better for Thanksgiving than to watch another family more dysfunctional than yours or mine? What's surprising about Peter Hedges' directorial debut (he's been a standout scriptwriter) Pieces of April isn't the family dysfunction, though, but the thoughtful and realistic way every character is composed. Hedges never panders, showing considerable empathy for these people, who create the situations but rarely in a contrived way. The whole cast is fine, from the now-ubiquitous Oliver Platt as the put-upon dad, to the surprisingly good Katie Holmes [put Tom Cruise out of your mind - ed.] as the black sheep daughter trying to make amends with her first, and nearly disastrous, stab at cooking Thanksgiving dinner - but it's Oscar-nominee Patricia Clarkson who, as is her custom, steals the show as April's cancer-battling mother with a sick sense of humor. Also wonderful are the neighbors in April's New York apartment building, who range from hostile to saviors. There's the expected "importance of Thanksgiving" message here but the film isn't filled with stuffing. You will wonder, however, what the heck's in that faux turkey leg. Pieces of April may end a tad abruptly, but you're still left with a feeling of warmth and redemption that the film entirely earns. -- Craig Phillips

Special Features:

  • Commentary by Writer-Director Peter Hedges
  • "All the Pieces Together" Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

You might also enjoy:
The Daytrippers
Dysfunctional family coming together and coming apart in the Big Apple

Katie Holmes is part of a fun ensemble in this teen Pulp Fiction

What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Peter Hedges wrote the fine script, based on his novel, for this whimsical, quirky family drama

GreenCine Member Reviews

No Turkey by talltale June 2, 2004 - 9:15 AM PDT
10 out of 10 members found this review helpful
A close-to-perfect family film, as well as a great holiday movie, PIECES OF APRIL is even better than I had heard and expected. You presume you'll get the best from actors Clarkson and Platt, but each performance comes off just right in this fine ensemble piece that will have you grinning throughout and then leave you with a wholly-earned lump in the throat. Great job here from writer/director Peter Hedges, who also gave us the screenplays for "About a Boy," "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and the much darker "Map of the World." More, please, Mr. Hedges!

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.03)
258 Votes
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