Projections - Movie Reviews

Pieces of April

Pieces of April

Katie Holmes plays a young Goth-ish made-up and dressed woman on her own in the well-written Pieces of April which benefits from digital filming.

She's the titular April, a family outcast, who's moved to an unappealing East Side apartment and neighborhood in New York City and has a black boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke of Antwone Fisher).  Some provocative images of lovemaking open Peter Hedges' intimate independent film that seems like a one-act play.  Attempting to atone for the problems she's caused invitations are sent to her family for Thanksgiving dinner that she will cook.  That leads to some funny and touching moments.  It turns out April's oven is malfunctioning and her recollections on meal preparation have her reaching out for neighborly assistance.

Among the diverse members of April's family, her cancer-stricken mother Joy is played wonderfully by Patricia Clarckson (Far From Heaven) with a blend of wistfulness, hurt, and anger.  Oliver Platt is the beleaguered father and her siblings consist of a pot-head brother and an irksome sister.

Pieces of April may be regarded as an art-house version of Jodie Foster's Home for the Holidays, but as conventional as it may appear heading toward the climax, it has a sweet innocent quality with Holmes very convincing as a young adult trying to weather a storm with family and neighbors who sometimes are trouble to deal with.  She embraces the inspired direction of Hedges who wrote films with rich characters like About A Boy and What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Maybe the denouement lacks the emotional payoff of what Hedges blossoms from his story and characters, but even with a short running time his sincere approach and ability to draw on genuine emotion from Holmes shows how this "home movie" can persuade one to reflect on their life.

 
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