If there is any Holiday that gets robbed, it’s Thanksgiving. Shoe-horned in between the children’s favorites Halloween and Christmas, the day of official thanks is relegated to a momentary tryptophan filled blur. It’s especially reflected in the amount of movies about Turkey Day. I know Thanksgiving is associated with watching football- especially the Dallas Cowboys, which is my favorite team. But what else is there out there that can embody the spirit of this otherwise neglected holiday? I think I found it.
A few years back I discovered Pieces of April (2003). It was directed by Peter Hedges who is known for his complex but light-hearted family dramas like Dan in Real Life and About a Boy. ‘April’ is about a wayward daughter that invites her dying mother and the rest of her estranged family to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. April is also living with her interracial boyfriend Bobby who the family does not approve which adds to the tension. It stars Katie Holmes- ok, before you pass judgement, give this a chance. I know, Holmes has never been able to pull off a convincing role off since her adorable ‘Dawson Creek’ days (what you weren’t wowed by Batman Begins?). However, in this ‘Juno’ type character, she actually does quite well. In fact, I would say this is my favorite movie of hers (which isn’t saying much). So give her a shot.
Like Hedges other movies, this is about the blessing and curse of family. ‘April’ captures the love, hate, anxiety, and forgiveness that we have all experienced at one time or another during the holidays. There are multiple story lines that eventually all find their way together at the end. Filled with a recognizable cast, ‘April’ is strongly supported and I especially enjoyed Bobby played by Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher). There are some surprises with his character that I really liked (don’t want to spoil it for you).
I know what you are thinking. no thanks ‘save yo drama for yo mama’ on Thanksgiving! Don’t worry, while the anxiety levels are high, Hedges manages to keep this positive with a satisfying conclusion. It’s not so heavy to bum you out but enough to make it believable. There is nothing insidious or dark that would disturb more sensitive audiences. Nothing graphic to cause embarrassment during a family viewing either. It is PG-13 so probably not appropriate for the young ones but I would encourage it if you have teens.
Pieces of April reminds us all that no matter what has happened in the past that there is something special about family. The pain is always worth the progress. So somewhere between your turkey induced coma and mad rush to for Black Friday, give Thanksgiving it’s well deserved love by watching Pieces of April. I am sure it will make your holiday favorite list for the future.