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PIECES OF APRIL

A young, cooking-challenged woman living with her boyfriend on New York’s Lower East Side attempts to mend her tattered relationship with her family by inviting them to a Thanksgiving Day feast.

CAST: Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, Derek Luke, Alison Pill, Sean Hayes, Alice Drummond, John Gallagher, Jr

DIRECTOR: Peter Hedges

"The touchingly honest indie ‘Pieces of April’ sneaks up on you…It seems like a pretty straightforward setup for an examination of the strange dynamics that drive all families, but Hedges laces his screenplay with unexpected bursts of hilarity and imbues the scruffy whole with such obvious affection for the characters that they hijack your heart…Holmes is terrific as the alternative-lifestyle chick stubbornly intent on snatching a memorable meal from the jaws of defeat…Clarkson, the reigning queen of the indies, is simultaneously funny and heartbreaking…and Derek Luke strikes a chord as April's sweet new boyfriend…Hedges has crafted a warmhearted holiday film that stands as a small classic in its bittersweet illustration of the unbreakable bond of family." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"Almost everyone in this movie is distraught, and yet, because Hedges doesn’t judge them too harshly, no one descends into caricature. At least not for long. His affection for his characters is palpable; when they make fools of themselves, which is most of the time, it’s taken to be a sign of their humanity…Clarkson and Platt are painfully believable as a couple bound by love and fear. When, near the end, he sees her resting with her eyes closed and thinks for a moment that she is dead, the movie’s dramatic key suddenly drops an octave. Hedges keeps everything in balance: The sadness and frivolity all seem to be part of the same emotional continuum. He’s made a lingeringly poignant little movie." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"The emotional well-being of the Burns family is dependent on a brat who is slaving to find her inner decency and barely has the equipment for such an achievement, let alone to serve a meal whose salmonella potential could claim an entire borough…Mr. Hedges gently pokes at the dysfunction that increases exponentially during the holidays, when people stop paying attention to one another to live out some fantasy of blissful coexistence, a state that only aggravates their ability to get on one another's nerves…Each actor shines, even Ms. Holmes, whose beauty seems to have fogged the minds of her previous directors…The movie also shows the range of Mr. Luke, who contrasts the coarse volatility of his lead role in ‘Antwone Fisher’ with a charming, polished ease." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"In the reliably indigestible genre of the Thanksgiving-reunion movie, ‘Pieces of April’ is easily the biggest turkey yet—a gluttonous buffet of Sundance clichés, with an acid-reflux aftertaste of condescension and unexamined racism…The characters are assigned precisely one trait each, and dutifully wear them like placards…Manipulative and cloying, ‘Pieces of April’ turns into something altogether creepier, even pathological, whenever first-time filmmaker Peter Hedges brings up race…This is a film that invites you to see the humor in a carload of white folk recoiling from a black man…there's a tough-love black couple who function as our heroine's very own Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, and a Chinese family who doesn't speak a word of English, and to whom she must patiently explain the meaning of Thanksgiving. Given the film's take on race relations, I'm guessing it's lost in translation." --Dennis Lim, The Village Voice

"… writer-director Peter Hedges takes a well-worn premise -- the Thanksgiving dinner that unites an intractable family -- and turns it into a delightful, funny surprise. When it's time to give thanks for the bounty before us, let us not forget Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson, the two driving forces of this movie…this low-budget effort has charm, fine acting and one of the few realistic screen depictions of the awkward dynamics of a family trying to circle its wagons." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"What basically keeps the movie cooking are its two main performances, a deftly busy if otherwise unspectacular one by ‘Dawson's Creek's’ Katie Holmes and a cranky one from indie stalwart Patricia Clarkson (‘The Station Agent’) that occasionally achieves a state of tragic grandeur …when Clarkson gets on one of Joy's magisterial tears about how health and April have disappointed her…you want it to go further, hear more, because so rarely does parental anger get such honest expression in American cinema. Plus, these are the only moments with any real bite in ‘Pieces of April.’ Otherwise, it's a movie that's a little too determined to find sweet forgiveness in sour attitudes." --Bob Strauss, The Los Angeles Daily News

"…a playful comedy laced with heartbreak…Holmes has her best screen role to date as April, a screw-up to her suburban family…It sounds like sitcom pap. But writer Peter Hedges (‘About a Boy,’ ‘What's Eating Gilbert Grape’), making an encouragingly nonpushy debut as a director, is too good for that. Even mom's terminal cancer doesn't turn the film maudlin, thanks to Clarkson, who is scrappy perfection in the role. But it's Holmes who holds ‘Pieces’ together…Holmes nails every laugh without missing the dramatic nuances. She makes April and her movie well worth knowing." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"A chamber piece for two acting ensembles and digital camera, writer-director Peter Hedges’s Sundance festival fave follows, on the one hand, ‘bad’ daughter April (Katie Holmes) and her worse-than-hapless attempt to make a Thanksgiving dinner in her dingy New York flat, and, on the other, her suburban family (whose matriarch, played by Patricia Clarkson, has cancer and will probably not see another Thanksgiving) as they trek into N.Y.C. anticipating a ripe disaster. That’s a lot of stuff for a small movie, but Hedges and company manage to ring true on almost all the material’s sweet and sour notes." --Glenn Kenny, Premiere Magazine

"…a cascading series of crises that writer-director Peter Hedges infuses with surprising dark humor and even more surprising quantities of heart…‘Pieces of April’ is a triumph: smart, witty and touching in its examination of the way family ties can get stretched to their limits without severing the connection that makes people a family…Holmes, best known for her ‘Dawson's Creek’ role, sheds the TV persona to play this hilariously petulant young woman who learns the value of humility. Clarkson, so good in the recent ‘Station Agent,’ has a comic delivery like razor blades: cutting cleanly, almost invisibly, so that it takes a moment to realize she's drawn blood." --Marshall Fine, The Journal News

"It’s ultimately an effective recipe. There is, on one hand, April's barbaric cooking technique and the exchanges she has with her weirdo neighbors, as she tries to find a working oven…and on the other hand, there's Joy Burns (the consistently wonderful Patricia Clarkson), a wife and mother exercising a dictatorship of disease over her constant husband (Oliver Platt)…There also is a terrific performance by Derek Luke, as April's boyfriend, who her white family doesn't know is black, but is the most enthusiastic about Thanksgiving dinner." --John Anderson, Newsday