In a very poor zone of New York, April Burns and her boyfriend, the Afro-American Bobby, are preparing to receive April's family for thanksgiving dinner. While Bobby tries to borrow a suit for himself, April realizes that her stove is broken. She tries desperately to find a neighbor that can let her cook the turkey, since she does not want to fail (again) with her family. Meanwhile, in a suburb of Pennsylvania, her dysfunctional family is preparing to travel to New York. While driving, the relationship between the Burns and their black-sheep April is disclosed through the conversations between her father Jim, her resented mother Joy, her brother, her sister and her grandmother. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
New Traditions Meet Old Over the Streets and Up the Stairs
"Pieces of April" is a wonderful New York component for a trilogy of mordant but ultimately sweet holiday movies, along with the Parisian "La Buche" and the multi-ethnic L. A. "What's Cooking."
I particularly identified with Katie Holmes's character's incompetence at cooking Thanksgiving dinner when the other women in the theater were laughing uproariously at her efforts and I wasn't even sure what she was doing wrong, other than focusing like I would do more on the decorations than the food preparation.
Screenwriter and debut director Peter Hedges filmed in poorly lit digital video on an evidently minuscule budget but with a terrific cast and mise en scenes.
The characters who embark on parallel picaresque odysseys in a quaintly but believably diverse Lower East Side tenement and suburbs to city road trip are refreshingly individual and un-stereotyped in surprising directions, even if the actors may overdo the theatrical flourishes. Sean Hayes especially over-fusses his neighbor bit. Patricia Clarkson is marvelous as a mother with daughter issues and cancer.
There was nary a dry eye in the house at the end.
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