PIECES OF APRIL is greater than the sum of its parts, and thus it was a crowd pleaser at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003.
April is living with her African American boyfriend Bobby in a rundown tenement in the worst section of New York City. She has been alienated from her family for many years and has invited them all to Thanksgiving dinner, which she has to learn how to cook the very day of the meal.
Switch to her family who live in the suburbs. When the father wakes up and finds that the mother is not in bed, he panics. He asks the daughter Beth and son Tim if either one has seen their mother. They all run around frantically and eventually find the mother sitting in the car ready to go. Each one of them asks the mother how she feels. Each one says they can cancel the trip if she does not feel well. Slowly it is revealed that the mother is dying of cancer. Furthermore, evidently, April was the rebel with whom the mother fought all of the time and whom no one liked, except the father, who is close to being a saint.
When Bobby leaves the house on his motorized scooter to do some business, April finds out that the oven doesn’t work. She begs the neighbors to help her. A black couple, Yvette and Eugene, open her eyes to the joy of cooking, but they can only give her two hours in their oven. Finally, she finds a very uptight, prissy man on the top floor who lets her use his brand new oven. When he overhears her slightly mocking him, he decides to take the Thanksgiving turkey hostage. Meanwhile, Bobby’s business turns into a crisis, and he has to confront the local gang. After a caustic and difficult trip, with the mother spewing venom at everyone and smoking marijuana to ease her nausea, the family ends up in front of her apartment. Beaten and bleeding, Bobby welcomes them. They are shocked, and by the time April gets downstairs, they have left. But, that is not the end of the story.
PIECES OF APRIL is extremely well written. The character arcs are carefully plotted. Ultimately, it’s a story of forgiveness and redemption. God is mentioned positively, though not prominently. Regrettably, the dysfunction of this family is too intense at times. The mother shocks her mother by showing pictures of her breasts before and after their removal. The mother talks about her disdain for her daughter and dismisses her other daughter in a mean fashion. The mother uses marijuana to kill her nausea. The prissy neighbor lets his dog eat the drumstick from the turkey. A gang beats up on Bobby. April tells the Chinese tenants in the building the story of Thanksgiving in a very politically correct, anti-European way. All of these foibles, however, give depth and breadth to the characters and end up making the reconciliation even sweeter. The father is the rock in the family. He truly loves his wife and his children. He is a great example, a rare commodity in movies.
PICECES OF APRIL was shot on a low budget. Some of the camera work is terrible, but it all works. This is not a movie for children or even teenagers, but those who see it may be brought to the point of repentance, forgiveness, and renewal within their own families.
Please address your comments to:
Alex Yemenidjian, CEO
2500 Broadway Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404-3061
Phone: (310) 449-3000
Fax: (310) 449-3024
SUMMARY: PIECES OF APRIL stars Katie Holmes as a young woman who invites her dysfunctional, estranged family over for Thanksgiving dinner. Ultimately, PIECES OF APRIL is a story of forgiveness and redemption, but it is marred by too much dysfunction, some foul language and sexual content.
(B, C, PC, LL, V, SS, NN, DD, M) Ultimately moral worldview with a positive reference to God, a picture of Jesus Christ, and elements of forgiveness, with some politically correct material including a discussion of Thanksgiving and how the European robbed the Indians of their land, and an interracial premarital sexual relationship; nine obscenities, eight profanities, and several scenes of woman on chemotherapy vomiting; gang beats up man with aftermath shown, woman beats up neighbor with aftermath shown; depicted fornication scene with no nudity while couple discusses Thanksgiving dinner, brief shot of another fornication scene, and discussion of sex by mother high on marijuana; upper female nudity in photograph of mother’s breasts and photo of mother’s chest after her breasts are removed, which shocks the mother’s mother; no alcohol; marijuana use; and meanness, deception, and lying.