Pieces of April

“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.

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  1. Another very interesting movie with Patricia Clarkson in it is “The Station Agent”. It is essentially a movie where 3 people just sit and talk but Mary and I loved it.

  2. Oh, crud, no I forgot to watch the extras! And I netflixed this too. And it was set to go out to the mail, but thankfully I read your comment. I’ll watch that stuff tonight…

  3. The movie is even more touching when you know more about why he made it. Its really short but I think you’ll find it worthwhile. As I said, I have this movie for those of you blog readers who live here in town. Its worth checking out!

  4. This movie is amazing. I rented it right after it came out then ended up going and buying it. The music is indeed incredible (my fav author, Neil Gaiman, is a huge Merritt fan btw).

    Katie Holmes does an amazing job portraying a girl who so desperately wants to reconnect with her family. The casting in this movie was perfect. I love the way that they shot the ending sequence in this film. I won’t ruin it for anyone but it is very poignant and powerful. Every so often I’ll grab this and throw it in the DVD player just to watch the last 5 mintues.

    Have you watched the extras on the disk? The making-of feature is very touching as the writer discusses the real life inspiration for this film.

    This is a 5 star film!

  5. Wow, isn’t that frustrating, Mary? It’s hard for me to understand how someone couldn’t connect to its themes at *some* level, as you said.

    And yep, that ending was pitch perfect. Made me lose it too. 🙂

  6. One of my co-workers saw Pieces of April, and he said that he and his girlfriend really didn’t think it was that funny. All I can say to that is, “Huh?” I think they went in with the wrong expectations because it was a wonderfully moving picture with humorous elements. There are so many themes that we can all relate to, especially just really wanting things to be okay with your family relationships.

    I admit that I cried at the end quite a bit.

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