As the debate between digital video and film rages on, “Pieces of April” proves a point that many people overlook in the DV/film debate. If you have a great story, a great script and a great cast, DV will work as well as film onscreen.
Katie Holmes plays April, the black sheep of her family that has moved to a bad New York neighborhood with boyfriend Bobby (Luke). Wanting to make amends with a family she tortured over the years, April invites them to her ramshackle apartment for Thanksgiving. April has never cooked and seems to be piecing the meal together from what she remembers as a child. The turret “stuffing” scene is classic.
The major plot point happens when April’s oven doesn’t work and she has 5 hours to find a way to cook the turkey. She is forced to rely on her neighbor’s ovens to get the job done.
The story is that simple…and it works. But there’s more. April’s mom (Clarkson) is dying of breast cancer. Her performance is inspired as she moves from feelings of pain to those of anger and even a touch of sadness. It’s a detailed and excellent performance that proves the point about DV filmmaking. The performances make the medium less important.
As the family battles in the car on the way to April’s, April battles neighbors for their oven. Some neighbors are friendly and others are just plain freaky. Peter Hedges (writer of “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “About a Boy”) has made a simple and sweet movie that will leave you misty eyed. Katie Holmes is great as the independent, yet sweet April and the entire cast is inspired. Aspiring DV filmmakers should take note on the importance of a solid story and also will have some more fodder for their side of the debate.