Pieces of April

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Pieces of April
Girl with pigtails, her hair dyed red with dark streaks
Original poster
Directed by Peter Hedges
Produced by Gary Winick
Written by Peter Hedges
Starring Katie Holmes
Derek Luke
Sean Hayes
Alison Pill
Oliver Platt
Patricia Clarkson
Music by Stephin Merritt
Cinematography Tami Reiker
Edited by Mark Livolsi
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • October 17, 2003 (2003-10-17)
Running time 81 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $300,000[1]
Box office $3,272,028[1]

Pieces of April is a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Peter Hedges. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The name is taken from a 1972 hit song by Three Dog Night, which reached No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100.


April Burns, the eldest daughter in a highly dysfunctional family, lives in a small tenement apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with her boyfriend Bobby. Although estranged from her family, she opts to invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, probably the last for her mother Joy, who has breast cancer.

The film focuses on three journeys: the family's arduous trek from suburbia to New York City, punctuated by stops for Krispy Kreme doughnuts, bagels, Joy's frequent need for a restroom or a joint to ease her pain, a burial service for an animal they hit, and various arguments and recriminations, as well as discussions of their disappointment in April; Bobby's efforts to find a suit so he can make a good impression on his girlfriend's relatives; and April's preparations for the meal, a near disaster when she discovers her oven is broken. With the help of various neighbors, she manages to assemble dinner, while learning to appreciate the importance of family and making some new friends in the process.



In his commentary on the film's DVD release, Hedges says the inspiration for his screenplay was twofold — his mother's battle with and death from cancer and a true story about a group of friends whose plans to prepare a communal Thanksgiving dinner were thwarted by a broken stove.


Critical response [edit]

The film-review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 84% based on reviews from 146 critics, with an average rating of 7.1/10.[2]

Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times, called the film an "intelligent and touching farce" and added, "Mr. Hedges dances from one vignette to another with a mouthwatering finesse."[3] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said "it contains much good humor" and "has a lot of joy and quirkiness; it's well-intentioned in its screwy way, with flashes of human insight, and actors who can take a moment and make it glow."[4] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine, described it as "a playful comedy laced with heartbreak," adding, "It's Holmes who holds Pieces together . . . [she] nails every laugh without missing the dramatic nuances. She makes April and her movie well worth knowing."[5] Carla Meyer of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film " both heartfelt and tough-minded . . . [it] avoids sentimentality at every turn and truly earns both its laughs and its tears."[6]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly, rated the film C, calling it a "glib comedy" and adding, "Hedges shoves his characters into sitcom slots and seals them there."[7]

Box office[edit]

The film earned a total of approximately $3.2 million worldwide.[1]

Awards and nominations [edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]