Wan, that April
"Pieces of April," about a punkish daughter who hosts an unlikely Thanksgiving dinner for her family in her tiny Lower East Side apartment, comes out underdone.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
"Pieces of April" is a nice, slight, low-budget indie brimming with good intentions and made for very little money (estimates vary, but "under $200,000" seems to be the consensus). It's directed by Peter Hedges, who adapted the screenplays for Bruce Hornby's "About a Boy" and his own "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and stars, among others, Katie Holmes ("Phone Booth," "Wonder Boys"), Oliver Platt ("Ash Wednesday," "ZigZag"), and Patricia Clarkson ("Far From Heaven" and "The Station Agent," currently in theaters).
Holmes plays April, the punk black-sheep daughter of Jim (Platt) and Joy (Clarkson) Burns who, against everybody's better judgment including her own, has agreed to host Thanksgiving dinner in her minuscule Lower East Side apartment. April's parents, shutter-happy brother Timmy (John Gallagher Jr.), uptight operatic sister Beth (Alison Pill), and dotty old grandmother Dottie (Alice Drummond) pile into the family station wagon and head to New York City in a move reminiscent of Greg Mottola's "The Daytrippers" (although that film was a lot funnier) while April rushes from one rundown apartment to another looking for help while experiencing one culinary disaster after another.
|PIECES OF APRIL|
|Written and directed by: Peter Hedges.|
Cast: Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, Derek Luke, Sean Hayes, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr., Alice Drummond, Lillias White, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Sisqo, Armando Riesco.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
The cast is commanding, especially the leads, but the film isn't nearly as funny as it ought to be. In fact, it's rather sad and depressing for the most part (the dreary look of the film, shot on digital video in just 16 days, doesn't help any). But everything culminates in a scene that's so incredibly moving it virtually negates all of the false starts and occasional wrong notes and sporadic sour tones that went before it Mom has breast cancer and vomits a lot, April's boyfriend is (gasp!) African-American, all of the neighbors fit a convenient stereotype, etc. And in that regard it shocks us silly with its powerful statement about the enduring love of family.
|NOVEMBER 11, 2003|
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