Pieces of April

Rated 4.0 Screenwriter Peter Hedges (About a Boy and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) makes his directorial debut with the best entry to date in the burgeoning Thanksgiving Day-from-hell genre. Estranged, tattooed wild child April (Dawson’s Creek’s Katie Holmes) invites her parents (Oliver Platt and Patricia Clarkson) and siblings to share food, meet her boyfriend (Antwone Fisher’s Derek Luke) and maybe even mend family fences in her grungy New York apartment. Her kin accept the offer with mixed feelings and plow through a comical, emotionally oscillating road trip. Meanwhile, April discovers her stove does not work and races to prepare a meal with plenty of both help and aggravation from her neighbors. Clarkson is an unpredictable wonder as April’s seriously ill mother, who is running out of time on a more dramatic scale than her daughter, in a film that includes a refreshingly un-sensationalized interracial coupling.