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Pieces of April (2003)

  Directed by: Peter Hedges
Written by: Peter Hedges
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Alice Drummond, John Gallagher Jr., Katie Holmes, Derek Luke, Alison Pill, Oliver Platt
Links: Pieces of April on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Solid" - a review by pearly

Pieces of April is about a dysfunctional family who come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. April (Katie Holmes) has moved into a dodgy apartment in New York City with her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke), and she invites her family, including her ailing mother (Patricia Clarkson) to come and eat at her place, even though she has not gotten on well with them for a number of years.

Most of the film is split into two distinct separate parts: April and Bobby preparing for the dinner, and the family making their way to April's apartment. These two paths meet up towards the end. Far from an innovative technique for a film, it is still an effective way of telling this story. As April struggles to cook her turkey when the oven breaks down, and we see how much she wants this day to go well, we also see the family joking about eating before they arrive because the food is bound to be bad, and whinging that they have to go at all.

Clearly filmed with a tight budget, Pieces of April contains more beneath its surface than it appears to at first glance, and is a great directorial debut for Peter Hedges.

The actors take this fairly simple story and run with it to produce something a little more special. Patricia Clarkson was Oscar nominated for her role as April's mum, and you can see why. Her portrayal is heart-breaking. Alison Pill is also worth noting - she plays April's younger sister Beth, an uptight goody-goody who entertains the rest of the family with Opera singing as they drive, and who feels it is her job to look after her mum's best interests, and be the daughter that April never was. The difference between Beth and April is almost over-the-top, but it serves to highlight how their relationships with their parents differ.

The minor characters consist mainly of the other tenants in April's building, who she meets as she tries to find a new oven to cook her turkey in. Most of these are nice additions to the story - the first couple that lets her use their oven are particularly good - but I really could have done without Sean Hayes' (of Will and Grace fame) character. Playing a larger than life fastidious man with a dog (remind you of anyone?), I felt that the character didn't fit into the rest of the story; it seemed totally out of place, and just an excuse to use Hayes. Aside from this though, Pieces of April is a very enjoyable film, and a pleasant surprise.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 23 Mar 2004

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