out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Pieces Of April
|*Also starring: ||Oliver Platt, Derek Luke, Alison Pill, Alice Drummond, John Gallagher Jr., Sisqo, Sean P. Hayes, Lillias White, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Susan Bruce||
Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4
This black comedy belongs to a new sub-species of films known as the
Thanksgiving genre, like Jodie Foster's cynical "Home for the Holidays" and the
syrupy "What's Cooking?"
Written and directed by Peter Hedges ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape?"),
the unconventional story revolves around stubbornly independent April Burns
(Katie Holmes) who has invited her dysfunctional suburban family to drive into
Manhattan to join her for the traditional feast. April's never cooked a turkey
before but her devoted boy-friend Bobby (Derek Luke) helps her get the bird and
the "fixin's" ready in their shabby apartment before cycling off to find
appropriate attire to meet April's family. Soon after his departure, April
discovers to her horror that the stove's not working, leaving her to knock on
various neighbors' doors to beg to use their ovens.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, April's bitterly alienated mother, Joy
(Patricia Clarkson), is already sitting in the station wagon, ready for the
journey. She's terminally ill with cancer and callously uses deathbed humor to
manipulate her husband and children. After several stops - to pick up a senile
grandmother (Alice Drummond), smoke 'medicinal' pot and bury road-kill - Mom,
Dad (Oliver Platt) and April's two younger siblings arrive at her tenement in a
dilapidated Lower East Side neighborhood, only to discover that April's beloved
Bobby is a black man.
Peter Hedges cleverly captures familial estrangement, just as Tami
Reiker's hand-held digital photography has unvarnished realism. It's an
amusingly indelible portrait a family reunion and reconciliation - and leaving
this life with no regrets. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Pieces of
April" is a wry, ironic, off-beat 7, seasoned with the spicy sentiment of
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger
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