PIECES OF APRIL
Reviewed February 29th, 2004 by David Nusair
Pieces of April is a typically quirky independent comedy, complete with Patricia Clarkson's presence among the cast.
The film stars Katie Holmes as a young woman attempting to fix a Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family. Her boyfriend, played by Derek Luke, is off doing things on his own (in a subplot that's just a little too silly and convenient).
Though the film's ever-so-slight premise often threatens to collapse in on itself, Peter Hedges witty screenplay combined with the enthusiasm of the performers goes a long way in keeping things afloat. However, there are far too many instances of eccentric behavior among the various characters, a factor that keeps the film from ever becoming completely engrossing.
The most obvious victim of this is Clarkson's Joy, a figure that's both terminally ill and eccentric. Her conduct isn't believable in the slightest, and one suspects that Hedges expects us not to question it simply because she's got cancer.
Still, Katie Holmes is surprisingly charismatic in the central role and Derek Luke proves that his stellar work in Antwone Fisher was no fluke (pardon the unintentional rhyming).
Audio: Pieces of April is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track, and it's good if not spectacular. Dialogue is clear throughout, but not much beyond that.
Video: This anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 transfer is impressive. However, even though the film was shot digitally, it doesn't appear as though the movie was transferred to DVD directly from the digital source. As a result, the image isn't quite as sharp as it could've been.
Extras: The film comes with a commentary track from writer/director Peter Hedges that's slow-moving but informative. He's obviously got a lot to say about this personal project, but eventually runs out of steam. Also included is a 15-minute featurette that features interviews with all the major players. Rounding out the disc's supplemental content are trailers for Pieces of April, Uptown Girls, and Out of Time.
Conclusion: Pieces of April is a small, quirky comedy that's perfectly suited to home video.
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