Pieces of April (2003)

Film and Plot Synopsis

In this Academy Award nominated film (Patricia Clarkson – Best Supporting Actress), April Burns is estranged from her family. After her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, April offers to cook and host Thanksgiving dinner at her tenement apartment in a bad area of Manhattan. April’s family is reluctant to attend the dinner but makes the trip out of obligation to the wishes of April’s mother, Joy. April’s boyfriend Bobby leaves to run some errands and leaves April to cook the meal alone. However, everything goes wrong for April in the preparation of probably the most important meal of her life.

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‘Pieces of April’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Pieces of April (2003)The film takes place over the course of one hectic Thanksgiving day. April Burns (Katie Holmes) is the eldest daughter of Jim and Joy Burns (Oliver Platt and Patricia Clarkson). April is estranged from her family due to her lifestyle choices. However, Joy’s recent breast cancer diagnosis has resulted in April offering to host Thanksgiving dinner in her small tenement apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It is expected to be the last Thanksgiving for Joy. April lives with her African American boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke), who leaves early in the day to run some errands, leaving April to cook the dinner by herself.

As Jim and Joy begin their long drive from suburbia to New York City with April’s siblings, Beth and Timmy (Alison Pill and John Gallagher Jr.), and April’s senile Grandma Dottie (Alice Drummond), April begins having problems with her meal preparation. She discovers that her oven is broken which requires her to go door to door in her apartment building to see if any of her neighbors will allow her to cook her bird in their ovens. One couple, Eugene and Evette (Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Lillias White) allow her to use their oven for a couple of hours before they must start cooking themselves. They also help her prepare some of her side dishes while she is cooking.

Meanwhile, Bobby’s errand is to buy a suit so that he can make a good impression upon meeting April’s family. He eventually finds one at a second shop that is operated by a friend, Latrell (Sisqó). On his way home, Bobby is confronted by April’s old boyfriend, a drug dealer named Tyrone (Armando Riesco), who beats up Bobby with the assistance of his friends and steals Bobby’s scooter. Bobby’s face is bloodied, and his suit jacket is ruined.

Back at the apartment building, April is forced to look for someone else’s oven to finish cooking her turkey when Eugene and Evette start to cook their bird. She encounters Wayne (Sean Hayes), who is a little stand-offish, but agrees to let her use his new oven. However, he is insulted by something she says and locks her out of his apartment. Eventually, Wayne gives her back her turkey but keeps a leg for his dog. Another family helps April repair her bird and organize her dinner for her family.

This way, instead of April showing up with some new piercing or some ugly new tattoo and, God forbid, staying overnight, this way, we get to show up, experience the disaster that is her life, smile through it, and before you know it, we’re on our way back home. Joy Burns (Patricia Clarkson)

In the car ride to New York, April’s family discusses their relationship with April. Beth constantly expresses her disapproval of her daughter throughout her life. Joy expresses an expectation that the meal will be a disaster. Timmy constantly takes pictures of everything along the way. Jim tries to remain positive about the whole experience although he too has low expectations. Eventually, the Burns family arrives at April’s run-down building. They are each reluctant to get out of the car. When a battered Bobby arrives to introduce himself before running upstairs to tell April that her family is here, they decide to drive away. The Burns family stops at a nearby diner and decides to eat there instead. Meanwhile, Bobby and April come downstairs to meet April’s family. April is devastated when she finds that her family has left.

April and Bobby return to their apartment and invite the family that helped April to eat dinner with them. Meanwhile, Joy observes a confrontation between a mother and young daughter from the window of the diner. Joy remembers that she bears some of the responsibility for the schism between her and April. Knowing that she has limited time to make amends with her daughter, Joy and Timmy decide to leave the rest of the family and ask two motorcycle riders to give them a ride back to April’s apartment. When April opens the door to her apartment, she is shocked to see her mother. Joy and April have an emotional reunion which is photographed by Timmy. Not long after, the rest of April’s family arrives for dinner, each one embracing April. They all sit down to dinner with the other residents of the building. The film ends with a series of photographs by Timmy that show everyone having an enjoyable time, including Joy.

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Our Rating

United Artists released Pieces of April on October 17, 2003. Peter Hedges directed the film starring Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, and Patricia Clarkson.

User Rating: 1.99 ( 4 votes)
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