“Pieces of April”: A Young “Black Sheep” Hosts Thanksgiving Dinner

The first of three dysfunctional-family Thanksgiving movies that I’ve liked and will be posting about this week is the low-budget Pieces of April (2003).

April Burns (Katie Holmes), a 21-year-old with a new (African-American) boyfriend, is the “black sheep” of her white suburban family and estranged from them. The film’s tagline: She’s the one in every family.

April tries to explain her place in the family to a couple of her new neighbors:

April: I’m the first pancake.
Evette: What do you mean?
Eugene: She’s the one you’re supposed to throw out.

Knowing that her mom is receiving treatment for late-stage breast cancer, April decides to ask her family to her little apartment—that happens to be in a poor neighborhood of New York—for Thanksgiving. Her parents (Oliver Platt and Patricia Clarkson), along with her brother, sister, and maternal grandmother drive from Pennsylvania, all the while regarding the pending reunion with suspicion and skepticism.

View the trailer below:

Author Jeffrey Overstreet says, “this little miracle of a movie…reminds us of how crucial it is that we appreciate and love each other in spite of our failures, grudges, and disappointments.” Because, in the process of April bungling the preparations involved for her first-ever hosting of Thanksgiving, she at least comes to know, care for, and find a place within her “family” of previously-unknown neighbors…And, ultimately, maybe her other family as well.

Film critic Roger Ebert: “‘Pieces of April’ has a lot of joy and quirkiness; it’s well-intentioned in its screwy way, with flashes of human insight, and actors who can take a moment and make it glow.”

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