Pieces of April

Director: Peter Hedges

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Of all the holidays, there is something about Thanksgiving that seems to bring out the worst in family gatherings, and in his incisive and spirited melodrama Pieces of April, Peter Hedges examines the preparations for one family's festive dinner—one you wouldn't wish on your own worst enemy. The black sheep of the family, April Burns, has for some unknown reason agreed to host her family in the dilapidated tenement home she shares with her boyfriend Bobby. And as if preparing a holiday feast up to her mother's standards, a mother she doesn't exactly have an ideal relationship with, isn't difficult enough, the oven doesn't work and April must canvass her neighbors in search of a substitute. With her family on the way from suburban Pennsylvania, recounting not exactly positive memories about April, and April knee-deep in the various idiosyncrasies of neighbors she's never spoken to before, the two narrative trains hurtle toward each other as we await the seemingly inevitable collision.

Displaying the talent for writing characters and situations that stray from the norm that he showcased in What's Eating Gilbert Grape and About a Boy, Hedges has created a marvelously fun ride that takes unexpected turns and ends up in our hearts. With a sensational cast—Katie Holmes as April and Patricia Clarkson as her mother are especially memorable—this is another digital delight from the team that produced Tadpole.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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