Pieces of April (2003)

pieces of april poster 2003 movie katie holmes
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Strong cast, fun script

A bit too short

Movie Info

Movie Name: Pieces of April

Studio: United Artists

Genre(s): Drama/Comedy/Seasonal

Release Date(s): October 17, 2003

MPAA Rating: PG-13

pieces of april turkey salt shakers katie holmes

This Thanksgiving will be different…like it or not!!!

April Burns (Katie Holmes) and her new boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke) have invited April’s estranged family to their new apartment in New York for Thanksgiving in the hopes of making amends.  As April’s family makes their way to New York, April tries to get a turkey cooked and meets her new eccentric neighbors when her stove won’t work.  As April’s dying mother Joy (Patricia Clarkson) tries to fight her cancer, she also tries to remember any good memories with her problem child.  It will be a Thanksgiving to remember for all of them.

Written and directed by Peter Hedges, Pieces of April is a holiday comedy-drama.  The low budget film was a moderate success and received positive reviews.  The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Clarkson.

pieces of april family oliver platt alison pill patricia clarkson john gallagher jr

We love the holidays without our disruptive daughter!

I enjoyed the novel What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and liked the quirky world it set-up.  Hedges again delivers the quirky family with Pieces of April and by making it a holiday film, really reminds viewers of how family can help/hurt a situation.

The film was inspired by Hedges’ mother’s fight with cancer, but he smartly made the cancer a subtext to the story.  Family is family, and whether you like it or not, you can’t get rid of them.  Utilizing Thanksgiving (a criminally underused holiday), the family is pushed back together and instead of making it a sob-filled drama, Hedges fills the short (less than ninety minutes) film with laughs…it could actually be longer.

The cast is also strong.  Katie Holmes tries to shed her good girl role from Dawson’s Creek for the edgier April (she is somewhat successful), but Patricia Clarkson steals the movie as her dying mother.  Holmes is bolstered by a strong supporting cast Derek Luke, Oliver Platt, Alison Pill, and John Gallagher, Jr. as her immediate surrounding “family” and the eccentric characters of her apartment building including Sean Hayes and Sisqó…it is a bit too quirky at points.

pieces of april patricia clarkson cancer

I’m totally gunning for Oscar here…

The movie looks good with edgy photography, but the rip-roaring pace of the movie doesn’t give you much time to enjoy it.  Movies generally are too long for me, but this is amazingly too short.  While it looks good, it could have dealt with more development.

Pieces of April is one of those few “Thanksgiving” movies and has a fun place at the table.  The movie has a lot of drama in it, but doesn’t take itself too seriously by adding a lot of comedy.  It is an actor’s movie and has lots of fun roles and a cast that enjoys them.  Plus, Pieces of April brings up the old debate…Canned cranberry or fresh cranberry…You decide.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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