Pieces of April is one of those quirky independent comedy movie DVDs that you watch because although it is flawed it also has enough brilliant moments to keep you watching. Pieces of April stars Katie Holmes (Thank You For Smoking, Dawson's Creek) as April, a twenty-something girl living in Nw York who is putting Thanksgiving supper for her family.
The family, Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson, and Alison Pil and John Gallagher jr. as the kids, is shown on its way to the supper and taking the occasional break so the mother, who is dying of cancer, can vomit. She is a woman who has come to terms with her illness and the fact not much is to be expected from April cooking a turkey. Meanwhile, April goes from floor to floor looking for an oven to cook the turkey in.
The comedy here comes both from April's encounters with her neighbors, including a pre Will and Grace Sean Hayes, and from the locked in the car on a road trip family on its unwilling way to Thanksgiving supper.
What does not work here is the scenes involving April's boyfriend, played by Derek Luke. You know writer director Peter Hedges (screenplay for About A Boy and What's Eating Gilbert Gape) had to get Bobby out of the apartment but you kind of wonder what he is doing there in the first place and basically fail to see the interest when the movie cuts to his story.
The real star of this independent comedy now on DVD is the turkey which visits every apartment in April's tenement building and gets kidnapped.
About April alternates very nicely from comedy to dark comic pathos and this, in addition to Peter Hedges ability to surprise you, is what keeps you watching. Hedges also avoids the pitfall of many indie movies and makes sure his does not overstay its welcome.
In a very subtle way, Pieces of April is a movie about giving thanks.