Pieces of April - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pieces of April Reviews

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½ October 7, 2013
Very cute indie film that without sentimental schmaltz expresses the heartbreak and joy of family relationships and the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
½ August 17, 2013
Effective little indie.
½ July 8, 2013
Pieces of April is about being the black sheep. It's a critique of family life.

The good. A sweet, yet starkly realistic, family story, sometime touching, often surprising, with a few laughs and oddity to soften the drama. A solidly paced scenario well rendered by the editing and the camera work. Soft music and score. Complex and very varied characters with nice depth. Hard hitting dialogs that reflect the harshness that sometime life can have. Great acting on the part of all the cast.

The actors. The most notables are definitively Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, and Patricia Clarkson.

The bad. Nothing.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. Not everyone will appreciate this film, but I still recommend it to those willing to see life for what it is.
June 7, 2013
Thank God for the constant bombardment of repiticious adnorsioum airing same shows on pay tv without which I may never have found this gem. I am a photographer and I love this movie. When I find it I will buy it.
May 29, 2013
Can be a little bit silly at times but it's as entertaining as it's heart-warming; and I'm all good for bland entertainment.
½ March 26, 2013
3/23/13 The film starts with no introduction, the viewer is just thrown in. I don't consider this a comedy; it really isn't funny, it is more a drama about a fairly dysfunctional family. It kept me interested to see how things would turn out, so it was an enjoyable watch.
January 27, 2013
Very nice movie. I really did loved it.
January 22, 2013
First, I hate this genre with a fiery passion. Screw up April decides she's going to host her family's Thanksgiving and s*** happens to mess it up! While this film isn't my cup of tea at all, there were a few stand out moments that were genuinely good and not just the film overstating how crappy life is. At 80 minutes long it manages to leave just as it really wears out its welcome.
January 12, 2013
I loved this movie. Most other people who see it think it's dumb but screw them. I comes on around thanksgiving time because that's what the movie is based on.
½ January 8, 2013
Were we watching the same movie? This is not a comedy. My heart was not warmed.
December 7, 2012
Would like to see at some stage.
½ November 22, 2012
Pieces of April, a Thanksgiving movie about dysfunctional families, tells three stories. Maybe it's more like two and a half. The third isn't developed enough to really warrant a full number, which is a shame. The film runs for only 80 minutes, barely enough, and was shot for under $300,000. It appears that trimming had to be done, which leaves us with an underdeveloped third story and an ending which is generic and feels rushed. Regardless, it's a film with charm and drama, and is absolutely worth watching.

April (Katie Holmes) used to be the perfect daughter. Then, she started going down the wrong path. Drugs, tattoos, and other such tomfoolery drove her away from her family, and in particular, her mother, Joy (Patricia Clarkson). Now, her mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and in an attempt to make up for her rebellious last few years, she invites the rest of her family to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. Along with her boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke), she begins to prepare dinner.

That's the first story. The second is the family's journey to get to her Manhattan residence. Joy is the most reluctant to go, although she's pushed along by the rest, starting with her husband, Jim (Olver Platt). Their other kids, the photographer, Timmy (John Gallagher, Jr.) and the spiteful daughter, who can never get the admiration that April did, Beth (Alison Pill), along with the Alzheimer's patient grandmother (Alice Drummond), all get in the car and, before you know it, we're on our way to New York.

The half-story involves Bobby running around town trying to do ... something. He claims it'll help April out, but it appears incredibly shady. And who is Tyrone? Apparently he's looking for Bobby, even though Bobby has no clue who he is. This is a clever ruse that's actually just a trick, something you'll find out rather early on. Bobby is a good person, and although his first interaction with April's family involves him being bloodied and bruised, it's not what it looks like. This time, that's not a lie.

April's story mostly involves her interactions with her neighbors, considering her oven refuses to start and she has to cook a turkey. These range from hilarious to disturbing to sweet, with a couple of them going through the whole spectrum. We see her determination and we realize that she genuinely wants to make things right. Meanwhile, her family is trying to figure out any reason not to go that their conscience will let them live with. Oh, and they're also going through their own funny or touching scenes, while also allowing us to learn about their (less-established) characters.

It adds up to a very simple and effective, if easy and clichéd, ending, that uses a photo montage to tell the story. It seems to me that director Peter Hedges ran out of money, so he got the cast to take pictures instead of filming them actually acting out the scenes he probably had planned. This is much cheaper and easier, although it doesn't allow for much of the drama and tension that easily could have existed. If only he had more money.

If that was the planned ending, and it was supposed to be told in that way, it's too easy and simple. No risks are taken in the way Pieces of April ends, even though it seems like some will for most of the picture. The film eventually gives into formula, which tarnishes it a bit. It is still powerful, and I'll admit that I found it moving, but it could have been more, and it could have brought all the tension that is built up throughout to a head, instead of letting it die. It has the buildup without any payoff, which is rarely a good thing.

Pieces of April also looks really cheap, using a video camera that probably could be bought at your local electronics retailer. It gives the film almost a documentary look, for some of it, and makes the characters and their situations more intimate. It's a really simple story, after all, even though a few of the events throughout are special. A movie like this one doesn't need -- and in fact, might be hindered by -- really good looking cameras. What is used here is effective.

Katie Holmes carries the film but is not the standout star. It's Patricia Clarkson, as the cancer victim mother, who gets the most sympathy, the most laughs, and turns in the strongest performances. With that said, everyone ranges from fine to good, with Holmes still shaking off her Dawson's Creek image -- and doing so effectively, I might add. Most of these actors are likable, charismatic people, and that's about all that's necessary in a film like this.

Pieces of April is a surprisingly touching film considering how many other movies like it are out there. It's about reuniting a dysfunctional family, but does it with an approach balancing comedy and drama, while also being an intimate picture with its almost documentary style. It is funny, and it is sweet, and it's ultimately a lot of fun, even though its budget and short filming schedule seem to tarnish the ending. Instead of taking a risk, a generic, yet effective, approach is used. It works, and ends up being a Thanksgiving film worth your time.
November 19, 2012
Best Thanksgiving Movie!
½ November 10, 2012
(2 1/2 Stars) It's a shame that there aren't a lot of classic Thanksgiving movies; I can only name a single great one (Planes, Trains and Automobiles... and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving isn't a movie) out of the many subpar ones. But I think I know why: Hollywood decided long ago that Thanksgiving is the holiday that's ripe with family melodrama, so every movie about Turkey Day has to be about kooky and drunk and overwrought family members getting together. They are barely ever funny. And surprise, Pieces of April is no different.

I know this movie is low budget... but this has to be one of the worst looking films ever shot. Not the production design, but the film itself. It's grainy and somehow looks worse than the microbudget Clerks. I honestly thought my TV was on the fritz. There's not a lot of backstory given to April (Katie Holmes), so I'm wondering who I'm supposed to side with: her family or herself. I know that her mom (Patricia Clarkson) unfortunately has cancer, but she has "indie-movie" cancer where she is quirky and peculiar, so the filmmakers make you feel bad for not liking her. Sean Hayes plays a creepy neighbor who I'm sure was supposed to be played by Crispin Glover. I actually like a few of her neighbors, especially the couple who makes the cranberry sauce... I wish the movie is about them.

Pieces of April would be a great 1950's film from France, with its low budget, many close-ups, and emphasis on character study. There are a few likable parts about it, but I feel like I have standards now. It's short and there's turkey, but look elsewhere if you want a Thanksgiving classic.
October 11, 2012
Reeeeally bad acting from actors that I like. Your typical "misfit is finally appreciated because he/she makes an effort for once" movie.
½ October 3, 2012
a simple movie about the true meaning of thanksgiving and the value of being together. very standard and easy to predict but also a pleasant one.
August 7, 2012
april is me but in new york. i love her and everything she is.
½ August 1, 2012
Independant filmmaking at some of it's worst. This movie also contains the most retarded sex scene I have ever watched.
July 23, 2012
I really like this movie. Very qirky!
½ June 22, 2012

"The girl's got problems. She's white, she's got her youth, her whole privileged life ahead of her. I am looking forward to hearing about her problems."-Evette (Lillias White)

I have two things to say about this film. First is, how true to life it is and secound: Holmes never looked so hot.
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