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Pieces of April
Pieces of April
Actors: Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson, Derek Luke, Alison Pill
Director: Peter Hedges
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
PG-13     2004     1hr 20min

Katie Holmes is "terrific" (People) as the quirky black sheep of her family in this delightful comedy-drama that "sparkles with acerbic wit, original characters and genuine heart" (Variety). Academy AwardÂ(r) nominee* Patr...  more »
     
     

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Movie Details

Actors: Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson, Derek Luke, Alison Pill
Director: Peter Hedges
Creators: Peter Hedges, Alexis Alexanian, Caroline Kaplan, Dianne Dreyer, Gary Winick, Holly Becker, John S. Lyons
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/24/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 20min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 13
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Chuck or Frances M. from WHEELING, WV
Reviewed on 10/14/2011...
If you are looking for a quirky little movie about a young woman's attempt to make a nice Thanksgving for her not so normal family then this is the movie for you. Katie Holmes is adorable in this movie, and I found the ending to be very touching.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chris M. from PROSPECT HTS, IL
Reviewed on 1/1/2010...
This is a really wonderful slice of life film! When a young (black sheep of the family) hosts - or tries to host a holiday dinner, everything that can go wrong does. Yet with the help of her neighbors she pulls it off. Great New York City film! Tip: Make some popcorn & have some cherry cola with this viewing!!!
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mary-Jo W. (mjowest) from SHELBYVILLE, MI
Reviewed on 12/23/2009...
I wanted to see Katie Holmes act, and I wasn't disappointed.
Sappy, predictable ending, but the characters were amusingly entertaining!
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Susan G. from LONG BEACH, CA
Reviewed on 9/14/2009...
It was a bit odd - not what I had expected from the description.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Great Thanksgiving Movie. Idiosyncratic Family Drama.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 03/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"April (Katie Holmes) is a young woman estranged from her family and living with her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke) in a mildly run down apartment building on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Aprils' mother, Joy (Patricia Clarkson), is being treated for advanced cancer and may not live long, so April has invited her family for Thanksgiving dinner in hopes of favorably impressing her mother and improving their relationship while there is still time. The family -Joy, father Jim (Oliver Platt), brother Timmy (John Gallagher, Jr.), and sister Beth, (Alison Pill)- piles in their car for the long and stressful trip to the city, while April prepares the meal. But things get off to a bad start when her oven won't work."Pieces of April" was written and directed by Peter Hedges. It's a wonderful examination of family and an engaging portrait of these individuals who are so disparate in personality yet linked to one another by hope and tradition. And "Pieces of April" is an testament to the opportunities modern technologies provide to filmmakers with few resources. The film was shot in 16 days on digital video for $300,000. And, incredibly, the only glaring evidence of these limitations is the absence of wide-angle shots. Director Peter Hedges didn't use wide shots because they are problematic on DV. The result is that occasionally our field of view seems unnaturally truncated, but not enough to detract from the quality of the film. I was a little surprised to learn that great thespians Patricia Clarkson and Oliver Platt and a young star like Katie Holmes would agree to such a low-budget production, but I imagine this fantastic script captured their interest. Peter Hedges' dialogue is crisp and forceful, and his characterizations are interesting and so genuine that these people might be your neighbors. Great actors, a great script, and resourceful direction can apparently create a terrific film with very little else. There is little I can say about Patricia Clarkson's performance except that she is brilliant as always. April's mother, Joy, is hypercritical, blunt, but a font of emotional strength, and no one could play this memorable character better. Oliver Platt departs from the quirky characters for which he is famous to play Jim, Joy's even-tempered tolerant husband. The supporting cast is large and perfect without exception: Alison Pill, who plays April's teenaged sister Beth, is destined to be a great character actress. Derek Luke, of "Antwone Fisher" fame, this time plays a man who is confident and comfortable with himself. All of April's neighbors are portrayed vividly, but especially memorable are Isiah Whitlock, Jr. and Lillias White as Eugene & Evette and Sean Hayes as nutty neighbor Wayne."Pieces of April" is an engaging, ultimately optimistic, family drama that is somehow both idiosyncratic and universally true. Great performances. Great script. This is the best Thanksgiving movie I've seen. I can't recommend it more highly.The DVD: There are 2 unavoidable previews. Both widescreen and full screen formats are on the same disc! Bonus features include a "making of " documentary entitled "All the Pieces Together", an audio commentary by writer/director Peter Hedges, and a theatrical trailer. The documentary includes interviews with the film's cast and Peter Hedges, in which he discusses the film's genesis. Hedges also does a nice audio commentary in which he talks about the film's themes, story, and technical stuff. If you really like the film, the extras are worth watching. Hedges' commentary may be of particular interest to aspiring filmmakers seeking insight into how to get the most out of a small budget. At the very least it is inspiring on that level."
Not exactly Rockwell's vision
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 03/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"You may have seen the famous Norman Rockwell painting, "Freedom from Want", which depicts the idealized American family gathered around the quintessential Thanksgiving table as the turkey is presented for carving. PIECES OF APRIL it's not.April Burns (Katie Holmes) lives in a New York City apartment with her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke), and the film opens as the two begin to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of April's family, which is driving in from out of town for the ordeal.Joy Burns (Patricia Clarkson) is dying of the metastatic cancer that has already cost her both her breasts, a surgical transformation suitably documented in the family photo album. She expects this Thanksgiving to be a disaster since daughter April was a more into drugs than Home Ec. Indeed, to say she and April are estranged is an understatement. But husband Jim (Oliver Platt) persuades her, so off they go in the station wagon with their other children, daughter Beth (Alison Pill) and son Timmy (John Gallagher), and Joy's senile mother Dottie (Alice Drummond) for what may well be Joy's last Thanksgiving. In the meantime, as Bobby goes out on a mysterious errand, April is faced with a non-functional oven, which forces her to desperately beg the other tenants in the building for the necessary range time to cook the traditional bird. Time is running short, and the rest of the clan is getting closer despite frequent stops for Joy to vomit from the nausea induced by her chemotherapy. And it also appears that the family doesn't know that April lives in a decrepit tenement in a graffiti-decorated slum, nor that Bobby is Black. The Burns festive occasion promises to make your dysfunctional Turkey Day look like a Martha Stewart showcase event in comparison.Clarkson was deservedly nominated for, but didn't receive, an Oscar for this performance in a supporting role. She's more the "star" of PIECES OF APRIL than the ostensible lead, Holmes. The Bobby, Beth and Timmy characters are almost an unnecessary distraction. More interesting are April's neighbors which give her help, or not, especially the very strange Wayne (Sean Hayes) and the middle-age Afro-American couple, Evette (Lillias White) and Eugene (Isiah Whitlock). There's an especially good scene involving Evette's initial reaction to April when the latter first appears seeking help for her culinary crisis.The movie's abrupt conclusion after eighty-one minutes leaves much to be desired. One wonders if the scriptwriter ran out of ideas or the producers out of money. But there's still enough there to make the film more than worth the cost of the rental. And, next Thanksgiving with the relatives, perhaps you won't take those mashed potatoes for granted."
Absolutely Superb Film!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"PIECES OF APRIL, written and directed by Peter Hedges, is simply a stunning little movie. Hedges has found the quintessential dysfunctional family and manages to make us love every looney one of them. The method of back and forth story telling - parents and children preparing for and driving into Manhattan for their estranged daughter's Thanksgiving coupled with the concurrent Manhattan set of the preparation of that dinner - works incredibly well without detracting from the momentum and flow of the story development.April Burns (Katie Holmes) lives in the seediest part of New York City and is the daughter who rebelled from her rather nutty family: she is tattooed, pierced, weirdly dressed, living in a rat hole tenement with her African American boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke). Never having cooked before, she invites her crazy family to Thanksgiving dinner (despite the fact that her oven is broken, she knows nothing about preparing a turkey, etc). Her preparations are aided by at least some of her fellow apartment dwellers. Meanwhile, her mother Joy (Patricia Clarkson, in a hallmark performance) who has had bilateral mastectomies for cancer and is on chemo + pot + bulimia + has a history of being slightly mad, her sweet flummox father Jim (Oliver Platt) who tries desperately to hold his family together, her 'just perfect sister' Beth (Alison Pill), her adolescent photographer brother Timmy (John Gallagher, Jr) and her senile but sweet grandmother (Alice Drummond) are all under duress at the thought of visiting April for the eating holiday. The way this all comes together is one of the funniest, saddest, and most tender and insightful stories to come out in a long time. The way Hedges treats cancer, senility, sibling rivalry, lost child syndrome, multiethnic questions, and family fragility is nothing short of genius. This is a superb metaphor for alienation, acceptance, compassion, and mutual respect. Recommended without reservation."