As you can tell, I continue to add to my 2003 movie list with Pieces of April. What a wonderful, small film and an immediate classic to me. I am a real softie when it comes to Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and food/family movies that lay out a large canvas for viewers to draw out images of their own family memories, the dilemmas that beset us all and the love, hope and reconciliation that emerges from the simplicity of breaking bread together – or in this case, a communal turkey.
April is into goth and shares an scummy apartment with her very good African-American boyfriend, Bobby, in lower Manhattan. April has invited her estranged family, her Mom, Joy (Patricia Clarkson), Dad (Oliver Platt), teen brother Timmy and teen sister Beth. On Thanksgiving morning, Joy is dressed and in the car, ready to go before anyone else is up. Joy has breast cancer. On the way out of town they stop to pick up grandma who has dementia. As they depart, April and Bobby stuff the turkey (very funny) and Bobby heads out to buy a new suit jacket to welcome April’s family. April puts up homemade decorations.
The movie parallels the family journey and April’s around the apartment house to find ovens that work. They have to stop the car often when Joy gets sick. The family tries to recall good times with April, but can remember only her sins. The closer they get, even Joy becomes convinced it’s not going to work. They cannot believe April can pull off a Thanksgiving dinner.
To tell you more might spoil this little film that is not afraid to show what love means. A gem.
I can even forgive Katie Holmes all those years she played the whiney Joey on Dawson’s Creek.