starring Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, Derek Luke
written and directed by Peter Hedges
by Walter Chaw Modest in its intentions and achievements, Peter Hedges's Pieces of April has an undercurrent of paternalistic racism that verges on the disturbing. April (Katie Holmes, great but wasted) and her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke) invite April's difficult family to Thanksgiving dinner. Because it's potentially, ominously, the "last" Thanksgiving, the estranged nuclear unit composed of mom Joy (Patricia Clarkson), dad Jim (Oliver Platt), grandma Dottie (professional grandma Alice Drummond), and their other two children Beth (Alison Pill) and Timmy (John Gallagher Jr.) pack themselves into the station wagon and head up the interstate. The picture cuts between April struggling to find someone in her tenement who'll lend her the use of an oven and the family doing their best to suffer the acerbic, often nasty Joy.