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Pieces of April

Starring: Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson
Director: Peter Hedges
Genre: Comedy
Year: 2003
Rating: 3 / 5

No matter what happens throughout her career, Katie Holmes will likely always be remembered for the years she served on the teen soap Dawson’s Creek. That program brought her fame and notoriety, leaving her image indelibly planted in the minds of teenagers everywhere. Even though the show eventually faded away, Holmes was unequivocally linked to the role of Joey, the neighborhood girl whose heart was torn in two. It is somewhat remarkable, then, that she has been able to continue shedding her television persona. Pieces of April marks the next logical step in this career progression, even if her work was largely overshadowed by a lauded supporting turn by Patricia Clarkson. The film belongs to Holmes, the actress who grounds her family’s spinning world in a foundation of kindness.

Thanksgiving may be a time for families to gather and celebrate, but not in the Burns household. This year is an exception, though, as a medical condition affecting Joy Burns (Patricia Clarkson) casts uncertainty over the family’s future. Estranged daughter April (Katie Holmes), long absent from the family, has offered to host a Thanksgiving feast, provided the family drives to her apartment in New York City. Even though no one really wants to go, Jim (Oliver Platt) huddles son Timmy, daughter Beth, Joy, and his mother-in-law into the family car and heads for the Big Apple. With low expectations and some rather pent-up feelings about April and her place in the family, the travelers hit the road with skepticism, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

By her own admission, April has not been a part of the family for some time. On the journey to see April, her parents and siblings struggle to find positive memories of their time together. While April is trying to put the pieces of her fractured family back together, if only for one night, she finds that her biggest challenge might be putting together a holiday meal. With an oven that will not start and a collection of neighbors either too busy or too uncaring to help her, April is left scrambling. Every time she starts to slip, though, boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke) is there to show her the way, offering encouragement and a helping hand. Finally, the meal begins to come together, but will there by anyone to enjoy the feast?

Even though the MTV Movie Award on her mantle was all that Katie Holmes could point to prior to this film, she more than holds her own with co-star Patricia Clarkson, the independent star of 2003 for her work here and in The Station Agent. Holmes conveys the emotions of a girl trying so hard to grow up, yet one still battling her own repressed feelings. She portrays April as a spunky, willful young woman who keeps finding new methods of getting in her own way. The supporting cast, including Clarkson, is game, although the characters seem more to be caricatures of real people rather than the disjointed family they truly are. The men are given little to do save whisper softly and act as a calming force in their ladies’ lives. Regardless, Pieces of April is powered by the title character’s charm and by her desire to start giving love a second chance.


Katie Holmes..........April Burns
Derek Luke..........Bobby
Patricia Clarkson..........Joy Burns
Oliver Platt..........Jim Burns

Certification: Rated PG-13 for language.
Running Time: 81 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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