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by Jordan Hiller

Pieces of April

Let me begin by saying that Pieces of April is (to my mind and without much competition) the best Thanksgiving movie of all time. Taking the time out of your busy life to see this film (preferably with a loved one) will not only allow you to feast on a rich, involving family drama, but you will be touched to your core and come away, at least for the moment, a fuller human being. I donít know how much more I can sell this movie without getting a cut from the studio, but I canít stress enough the grace and beauty of Peter Hedgesí haunting picture about a misfit, estranged daughter April (Katie Holmes) giving her quirky, but sooo real, family one last chance and vice versa on a New York Thanksgiving day.

We actually get two complimentary films -one of a suburban family making their way with much trepidation to their eldest girl who has terrorized them in the past, and the other, a film about April who makes a Thanksgiving dinner with the assistance of a random crew of neighbors after her oven breaks on the fateful day itself Ė both films culminate into one utterly moving, shiver inducing finale filmed with such eloquence that it may be difficult to catch your breath.

Holmes, who possesses super nova star power on the small screen seems to fit in well in small budget films that allow her lesser than spectacular big screen presence to acclimate itself. Patricia Clarkson as Aprilís dying mom making what for her is an epic journey turns in some remarkably potent stuff, all while perpetuating a deliciously stinging comic edge. Oliver Platt plays against type as Aprilís devoted father who need to grin and bear it as the reluctant rock of the family in a time where everything must naturally want to crumble. Rounding out the cast are Derek (Antwone Fisher) Luke (who is one of the most laid back, friendliest actors I have ever met) and Sean (Will & Grace) Hayes doing his best Crispin Glover as one of Aprilís cooky neighbors (I say they just should have gotten the genuine article).

Pieces of April, an absorbing film about family, has the gritty look of Harmony Korineís Kids, but that just adds to its mystique. Everything about the movie is surprisingly new and fresh and wonderful. Hedges, who also wrote the equally appealing Whatís Eating Gilbert Grape, is a visionary with far reaching talents and most importantly, he seems to care. He has an interest in telling of life and not only as a writer who seeks to make a living by portraying life on film, but as a living person with a stake in making our collective existence more meaningful. His latest film about a warm day in a cold month has his audience feeling thankful.

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