I recently asked my good friend Chris which movie he thinks more people should watch. Among many other titles, he suggested the (dysfunctional) family dramatic-comedy, Pieces of April.
Directed by: Peter Hedges
Staring: Katie Holmes
Plot: "A wayward daughter invites her dying mother and the rest of her estranged family to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner." - IMDB
How I Discovered It: I vaguely remember watching the above trailer sometime around my Sophomore year of college. Since then it's become something of a holiday cult film. I've heard plenty of people talk about it but didn't know much about the movie until Chris selected it.
My Memorable Moment: As you can probably tell from the trailer, Pieces of April has several off-the-wall moments that are absolutely hilarious (many in a cringe-worthy sort of way). That makes it all the more devastating when April's father (Oliver Platt) pulls the car over and stares at his dying wife (Patricia Clarkson) who is lying motionless in the passenger's seat. He places a finger under her nose to check her breathing and she comes awake. When April's Grandmother (Alice Drummond) asks what is wrong, her granddaughter (Alison Pill) stares at her parents and simply says, "Dad thought...." leaving the rest of the thought hanging in the air.
Yes, this is a movie that is painful to watch and the characters break many tabbooes regarding how family members should treat one another, but unless your family is particularly delicate, there isn't much here that will make you wish grandma wasn't in the room. (The movie is rated PG-13 for some language, a scene of sensuality, drug content and an image of nudity. Also, cancer is discussed very bluntly)
The moments in Pieces of April that are comical are downright hilarious and the parts that are dramatic are nothing but heartbreaking. The film ends on a note that touches on the importance of family but manages to remain 100% sap-free. The movie acknowledges a state that many families are in. Yes relationships with the poeple who are meant to love you the most can be painful. Yes parents/children/siblings will often break your heart. However, it may be a relief for some families to sit down and watch a holiday movies that takes them out of the ABC Family realm without plunging them into ironically profaine holiday movies, and see a film that may be an honest characature of their own home life.
So if you get a chance this Thanksgiving (or any Thanksgiving in the future) sit down with your loved ones and check out Pieces of April.
The last movie I covered left me stumped as to if there was anyone I could suggest that film to. It was kind of a relief to cover a movie that I can recommend to just about everyone.