In searching for a not wholly traditional Thanksgiving-themed movie for my DVD pick, an often overlooked indie movie from a few years ago quickly came to mind. “Pieces of April” , a film which features a pre-Tom Cruise Katie Holmes playing a frazzled young urbanite making her first Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family. “Pieces of April” is not completely snarky in its portrayal of family dysfunction, nor does it lapse into sticky sweet sentiment too often. The story may be slight but it benefits from a nice ensemble cast that brings to life the joys and stresses of family at the holidays.
April has always been the “wild child” of her family and adulthood has not helped her shake that reputation among her family members. But with mom Joy ill with cancer and April in love with boyfriend she is not sure the family will approve of, it’s the perfect time to try to bury the proverbial hatchet– or maybe not. Pretty much everything that could go wrong does.
While Holmes does have some strong moments in the movie, audiences will find someone to relate to, if not April herself: the perfect sibling, the smart mouth sibling, maybe even the long suffering neighbor. Best of all, Patricia Clarkson steals the show as the acerbic mom who doesn’t let anything–even cancer -control her decisions or her tongue. She is not diminished by her disease or her family’s foibles. Her performance is the perfect Thanksgiving reminder that we should love our families in part because of their flaws and not in spite of them.