Pieces of April
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At some point in life, we all go through our rebellious phase. When I was in college, some of my friends drank almost constantly. Some got shocking piercings. Some had mysterious plants growing in their bedroom closet. I rebelled by leaving the drawer open while I was brushing my teeth—because my mom always used to walk up behind me and close the drawer, forcing me to open it again when I was finished so I could put my toothbrush back.

Some rebel more than others, I guess.

For April Burns (Katie Holmes), rebellion wasn’t just a phase. It was a way of life that started way back when she used to throw lit matches at her little sister. And it continued as she picked up a drug habit and ran off to live with one drug-dealer boyfriend after another. April was such a bad kid, in fact, that Joy (Patricia Clarkson), her mother, can’t think of a single pleasant memory of her.

But things have changed. April has calmed down—and settled down with a great guy named Bobby (Derek Luke). And although she hasn’t seen her family in ages, she decides to give the family thing another try—and she and Bobby invite the whole family over to their dingy New York City apartment for a Thanksgiving dinner that will most likely be her dying mother’s last.

The movie traces the family’s Thanksgiving Day journey. It follows April’s attempt to make the perfect meal—despite he fact that she’s obviously far from skilled in the culinary arts. And when the oven breaks, she’s forced to go door-to-door in her building, begging neighbors for help.

It also follows her family—her mother and father (Oliver Platt), her stoned brother, her obnoxiously perfect sister (I have to admit that I couldn’t blame April for the match-throwing incident), and her grandmother—as they reluctantly travel into the city.

I don’t think that Pieces of April could have been any better. The story, about second chances—and about making memories while you can—is gritty and uncomplicated yet compelling. It’s touching and almost exhaustingly emotional at times, yet at other times it’s surprisingly quirky—filled with funny moments that help to lighten things up at just the right moment (like an impromptu roadside funeral for a squirrel or a run-in with April’s peculiar neighbor, Wayne, played by Will and Grace’s Sean Hayes). It’s a simple story—allowing you to sit back and get caught up in the characters and their situation. The performances are spectacular, and the ending is exactly what it should be.

So if you’re feeling a little rebellious, rebel from glitzy mainstream Hollywood and pick up a copy of Pieces of April. This is one movie you won’t want to miss.

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