April Burns (Katie Holmes), the black sheep of the family, has left home and now lives in an apartment in the Lower East Side with her new boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke). As a gesture of goodwill, although she doesn’t know the first thing about cooking, April has invited her family for Thanksgiving, but discovers at the crucial moment that her oven is broken. While she is knocking on her neighbours’ doors, looking for an oven in which to cook the turkey, her placid father Jim (Oliver Platt), terminally ill mother Joy (Patricia Clarkson), irritatingly perfect sister Beth (Alison Pill), brother Timmy (John Gallagher Jr) and Grandma Dottie (Alice Drummond) are recounting April’s failures in the car.
 

3.5
She\'s the one in every family.

The use of digital technology in filmmaking is becoming more and more prevalent. Sometimes it looks just like film as with Once Upon a Time in Mexico and at others it has a grainy immediacy which gives a sense of reality to films like Pieces of April. April, Katie Holmes, is a prodigal daughter living in a tenement building in New York with boyfriend Bobby, Derek Luke. In a vague and slightly resentful attempt to bridge the gap with her family, who lives some distance away, she is hosting Thanksgiving dinner. While Bobby\'s out organising a decent outfit to meet the Inlaws April discovers her oven doesn\'t work. She scours the neighbouring apartments looking for help. Meanwhile back in the bosom of the family her father, Oliver Platt, tries to hold things together with his wife Joy, Patricia Clarkson, alternately scathing about April and her ability, and patronising towards her two other children, the needily consoling Beth, Alison Pill, and son Timmy, John Gallagher Jr. As the family moves closer to its destination it becomes obvious that Joy is not a well woman and most probably never has been. Writer/director Peter Hedges in his directorial debut - he wrote What\'s Eating Gilbert Grape and About A Boy, has achieved the near impossible with this film. He drags us through the experience of meeting this wounded unlikeable family, even April lacks grace and charm most of the time, and then delivers an ending that, while rather sentimental and unbelievable, is something we\'re grateful for. Performances generally are super, with Clarkson once again soaring as the mother from hell.Comments by David StrattonOnce Upon A Time In Mexico proved that video-to-film could look great: Pieces Of April seems to relish the fact that it looks cruddy. The Thanksgiving Day family reunion theme has been well and truly done to death, but the film is redeemed by its fine performances, especially Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson, until the disappointing, co-out ending.