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Pieces of April
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
It's Thanksgiving, and April (Katie Holmes) and Bobby (Derek Luke) wake up very early in their apartment on the Lower East Side of New York. He is looking forward to hosting her family, but she isn't. April and Bobby start to get things ready, and then he leaves because he has "that thing" he has to do. As soon as he goes, April discovers that her oven does not work, so she wanders through her apartment building with her turkey, trying to find someone who will allow her to borrow an oven. Meanwhile, her family is no happier about the day than she is. Joy (Patricia Clarkson), April's mother, has cancer. This will probably be her last Thanksgiving. She and April have a strained relationship and both are overwhelmed by the fear that they will not be able to find a way to make it work this time. The family drives to New York: daughter Beth (Alison Pill) trying to be perfect, son Timmy (John Gallagher, Jr.) trying to remove himself by taking pictures of everything, dad Jim (Oliver Platt) trying to keep everyone happy, and Joy's mother (Alice Drummond), trying to hold on to her own memories, and Joy, angry and bitter and trying not to try anymore.
Is it any good?
PIECES OF APRIL is a movie that does more than trust its audience; it invites the audience to participate by bringing their own ideas and experiences to fill in the story. The film is shot on digital video, which gives it intimacy and a little messiness. It's easy to believe that it is a home movie. The performances are fresh and unaffected. The look on Beth's face as she tries to maintain her cheerful demeanor after her feelings are hurt; Jim's eyes as he looks over at Joy, not sure whether she's sleeping or dead; Bobby's description of being in love, the neighbors' cooking advice, April's explanation of Thanksgiving to a Chinese family, and especially the lovely last scene are moments that are real and touching and meaningful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they feel about their relationships with you and about one of the movie's great strengths -- its non-stereotyped portrayals of minorities from the terminally ill to African American and Asian characters. You could also talk about the movie's theme of memories. What are some of your favorite memories and what memories do you most want to make?