The black sheep of the family, April Burns, decides to host a Thanksgiving meal for her estranged family ù possibly their last as her mother Joy is desperately ill with cancer. But a broken oven and huge turkey mean that April has to seek out holiday spir
Don't let the melodramatic premise put you off. While Pieces Of April does set out on a digitally-shot and rather grim footing, it soon reveals itself to be a gutsy, indie gem from About A Boy and What's Eating Gilbert Grape screenwriter Peter Hedges. After the initial shock of seeing a dyed-hair and punked-up Katie Holmes in a run-down New York apartment that's a long way from Dawson's Creek, her character, April, emerges as someone who very much wants to make amends with her family.
As she and boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke, the breakout star of Antwone Fisher) begin to cook the Thanksgiving dinner — clearly the first time in the kitchen for both of them — their frantic chopping and stuffing is in stark contrast to her mother Joy's opinion of her. Joy, driving up with the rest of the family, has all but dismissed her daughter as nothing more than a bad memory.
Patricia Clarkson's standout performance as Joy is as honest as it gets, and writer-director Hodges treats her sickness not with pity but great understanding.
Pieces Of April is a shining example of just how compelling and affecting low-budget filmmaking can be when you’ve got a good story and strong cast. Don’t let the American institution of Thanksgiving put you off watching the movie — family get-togethers are the same the world over, and this one is a pleasure to watch.
Reviewed by Natasha Aitken
|Pieces of April|