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
Thanksgiving has always meant a lot to me. Unlike the stereotypical depiction of the holiday from movies, I always found it to be, beyond any other day of the year, the day when my family is the closest. Differences and resentments fade for a day, possibly because we're Midwesterners of German descent and there's nothing we like more than food. Whatever the reason, it's a pleasant holiday for me. Pieces of April captures the way I feel about Thanksgiving perfectly, and it moved me as deeply as any movie I can think of. It has a few flaws, a few things that could have been changed for the better, but its overall effect made me overjoyed and emotionally crushed at the same time. Patricia Clarkson was nominated for an Oscar for her performance as a mother of three dying of breast cancer. She's not a very nice person, and she's not too pleased with the way her life has come out. Katie Holmes plays April, Clarkson's eldest daughter. She lives in a crummy apartment in NYC and has invited her family to Thanksgiving dinner, most likely to be her mother's last. Unfortunately, Holmes finds that her oven doesn't work. She desperately searches the other apartments in her building for someone who isn't using their oven. A third track follows April's black boyfriend who rides his motorized scooter around the city for reasons that are at first obscure. It's a comedy, and a very, very funny one at that, but the themes of family and past injuries are remarkably touching. Clarkson is amazing, and she is the most obviously impressive performer in the film. However, Katie Holmes really proves herself to be one of the best actresses of her generation; her role is much more subtle and complex than Clarkson's. Oliver Platt plays April's father, and he also gives a subtle performance as the person trying to unite the family before his wife is gone. The only thing that really bothered me was the character of Wayne (played by Sean Hayes), one of the apartment dwellers whom April asks for help. He agrees to help her, but he thinks that she owes him something big, i.e., sex. That's surely believable, but the character is played as a goofy, eccentric cartoon character. It's far below the standard of the rest of the film. It reminds me a lot of Mickey Rooney's character in Breakfast at Tiffany's, an underthought splotch on what is otherwise a masterpiece. I wonder if it will have anywhere near as powerful an effect on others as it did on me (I wept for nearly a half an hour, and occasionally sobbed for almost an hour after that), but I am certainly more than willing to stick up for a movie like this that I really believe in. 10/10.
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