“Mother, don’t you just love every day?”
Pieces of April is the kind of film that makes me want to live in New York. Right now. That’s an unrealistic and romantic notion, I’m sure, but it’s no less true. It probably paints a sentimental glimpse of the city, like any affectionate homage by Woody Allen. But these characters grew on me.
We only get to see them for one day, one slice of their moderately troubled lives. It’s Thanksgiving day, and the suburban family is on a car trip to see their estranged daughter/sister April (Katie Holmes), while she attempts to cook for them. She’s the black sheep of the family.
There’s the photographer brother, the opera singing sister, the passive father (Oliver Platt), and the terminal mother (the superb Patricia Clarkson). These people are real, they have genuine problems with no tidy solutions, they live in dumpy apartments on the Lower East Side.
It’s a light-hearted comedy about very big-hearted questions of family and community. The frustrations of social connection and the stubborn breakdown in family units aren’t exactly sitcom material. Yet, Pieces of April handle them as delicately and as honestly as homemade stuffing.
And of course it doesn’t hurt that the film fronts a moody soundtrack by Stephin Merritt. I can’t recommend this movie enough.