With Thanksgiving drawing near, if you are looking for a film to get you in the holiday spirit, the comedy -drama Pieces of April is the film to watch.
The film follows April Burns, the black sheep of her family, as she spends Thanksgiving preparing dinner for her family in her small New York apartment. April’s plan to spend the day cooking soon falls apart when her oven dies, and she can’t cook the turkey in her apartment. Instead of giving up, April begins banging on doors trying to convince her neighbors to let her use their oven so she can make the dinner she planned. Interspersed with watching April desperately try to find a way to salvage her Thanksgiving dinner, the audience also follows April’s family as they make their way to New York City. The Burns are unenthused about making this journey, as they expect April’s dinner to be a disaster. They are also expecting the trip to be hard on April’s mom, Joy, because she is currently fighting breast cancer and has her own complicated history with her daughter. Besides following the Burns, the film also tracks Bobby, April’s boyfriend, as he tries to complete a task that he hopes will impress April’s family. His simple task soon becomes complicated due to forces outside his control.
Viewers who have ever felt like the black sheep in their family will connect with this film. Watching April try her hardest to make dinner for her family and then cutting to her family talking about how they are unable to come up with a happy memory associated with April is one of the hard scenes to watch. While there are many lows in the film, there are also many highs. One high is watching April’s various neighbors come to her rescue and assist her in getting her dinner back on track without asking for anything in return. This film demonstrate that while Thanksgiving may be a fun holiday for some, for others it is more complicated. A scene that speaks especially to this is when April tries to explain Thanksgiving and its meaning to her Chinese neighbors.
The acting in Pieces of April is excellent, especially Katie Holmes who provides a nuanced portrayal of April that causes viewers to understand her and root for her to have a successful dinner. Oliver Platt and Patricia Clarkson play April’s parents, and their portrayal of the various feelings they are having that day is also well acted. Also making an appearance is the late Alice Drummond, who appears as Grandma. From Drummond’s previous role in Ghostbusters, the audience knows they are in for a fun ride. A well-known actor makes a surprise cameo as one of April’s neighbors, but without ruining the surprise, this actor plays against a type that he becomes well known for in 2000s and shines in this brief role. Another added uniqueness to the film is its use of hand-held cameras and photography to tell the story of the complicated family dynamic that is interwoven through this stressful holiday. There is one shot near the end of the film that will tug at viewers’ heartstrings, because just when viewers believe all hope is lost, one more act of kindness occurs.
The simple gestures of kindness throughout the film really demonstrate what the true meaning of Thanksgiving that while you may think you can do everything alone, a little help can go a long way. Make sure to check out the trailer for Pieces of April below and be sure to watch the film on Hulu.