Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pieces of a Movie: Pieces of April

There are some wonderful bits and moments in Peter Hedges' movie, Pieces of April. There are also two movies in there, one about an anxious punkette (played by Katie Holmes) trying to prepare her first Thanksgiving dinner, and another about her suburban family, crammed into a station wagon, driving in to New York to eat said dinner in her apartment. In a word, it's a mess, but a mess worth watching because of the same wonderful ear for odd characters and family dialogue that shaped About a Boy, for which Hedges wrote the screenplay.

My favorite moment in the film was a lovely bit of acting by Oliver Platt, as the father. He notices that his wife (played wonderfully well by Patricia Clarkson) has gotten quiet and still during the car ride. We watch him notice this, then watch his notice turn to fear: he loves his wife, who is very ill with breast cancer. The little moment of carefully controlled panic (lest he scare grandma and the children in the back seat) as he checks to see if she is asleep or dead is beautiful to watch. The moment is almost spoiled, though, by a clunky commentary from the know-it-all daughter in the back seat, who explains it to her brother -- my first thought was darnit, that moment was beautiful as it was -- and then a grin when I realized that that is precisely what that irritating child would have done in such a situation: provide commentary when none was needed or wanted. Bravo, Mr. Hedges.

The movie is full of interesting moments and bits that don't quite hang together, and it ends abruptly in a shower of saccharine. On balance, I have to give it a thumb's down, but with great reluctance. Did I enjoy watching it? Almost.


Post a Comment

<< Home