By George Rose
June 23, 2009
The film is funny, full of wonderful music and even garnered the picture two Academy Award nominations (actress and musical score). As much as I hate to admit it, there is a reason some of these older films are considered classics. This movie isn't a remake or sequel. It is original and better off because of it, the kind of film young movie makers should want to watch to get inspired instead of paying $12 to see The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 in its umpteenth incarnation. There hasn't been a good musical in theaters for a while now, so if you're in the mood for some song and dance this is the film for you.
Pieces of April (2003)
Remember when Katie Holmes was awesome? I do. After all, I grew up with a scrapbook full of her pictures from magazines and Dawson's Creek snapshots. This was of course before Tom Cruise stopped the rising star from becoming a household name for acting skills. Instead, she's known as Mrs. Crazy Scientologist Baby Maker. It's a bad, played out joke, I know, but you get the point. The girl used to have a chance and Pieces of April was helping to make that happen.
Holmes is April, if course, in a day-in-the-life-of adventure about how a girl cast out from her family must throw together a Thanksgiving dinner for them. April's mother is dying so the family must reunite in what might be their final holiday together. Her family (made up of Oliver Platt and Patricia Clarkson, among others) recounts the trials they have gone through with April as they drive from Pennsylvania to visit her in New York, while April scurries around her apartment building preparing for the feast. The apartment building is filled with a variety of characters that contribute to the quiet humor of it all, especially April's African-American boyfriend, who is bound to shock her parents. The actors deliver some of their strongest performances (Clarkson received an Academy Award nomination), and while she wasn't nominated Katie Holmes proves she can do more than marry into insanity or be the weakest link in Batman Begins.
This was one of the films that was in theaters as I was discovering and trying to be a part of the independent film scene. I went to see it on my first real date (I'm not talking "let's hang out" high school date, but real dinner-and-a-movie date) and it gave us plenty to talk about. It was funny (not LOL funny, but "life can be complicated" funny), heartwarming and the kind of reminder you need that family isn't about how different you all are but rather how much you do for the ones you love. It put Patricia Clarkson on my map of actresses to keep an eye on and was one of the last films Katie Holmes did that I respected her for. You should watch this movie for no other reason than paying tribute to a once fine actress in the making.