Pieces of April

Screenplay by Peter Hedges (director)

Studio: UA (released Oct. 17)

Category: Original

Storyline: A family in which the mother (Patricia Clarkson) is dying of cancer embarks on a Thanksgiving journey from the suburbs to the N.Y. tenement apartment of ne’er-do-well daughter April (Katie Holmes), who, with a broken oven and no culinary skills, is having big trouble just making a meal.

About the script: In a deftly crafted screenplay that cross-cuts between April and her relatives on the road, this small but potent story memorably presents a modern family whose bonds are as sturdy as they are frayed. Through the ritual of Thanksgiving, it offers a ragged but inspiring vision of multicultural America. “I heard about a group of young people who went to cook a turkey and their oven didn’t work, and they had to go around the building trying to borrow an oven,” says Hedges. “It seemed like a great jumping-off point for a movie — an organic way to throw people together.”

“At the same time, we learned my mother had cancer. As she got sicker, I was aware of how hard we all worked to create moments of grace. We were trying to make memories.”

Biggest challenge: “I didn’t feel like writing, but she was adamant that we go on with our lives and work. I was trying to make something out of something untenable, which was her death. What took my breath away was when I realized the reason April was cooking the meal was because her mother has cancer.”

Breakthrough idea: “After I’d done a first draft, I saw I’d made a big mistake with Joy (Patricia Clarkson, as the mother). I’d made her this wise, loving being, and the script felt cloying. I realized that actually, if anyone has permission to say or do whatever she feels like doing, it’s this character. And I realized that she and April are the same girl, and that’s their problem.”

Favorite scene: When Joy leaps out of the car and tries to abandon the whole journey, leading to a yelling match between her and Jim (the father, Oliver Platt), and some of the film’s best and most revealing lines of dialogue. “That was a late rewrite. My script supervisor pointed out that I had 15 scenes in a moving car. I came up with a way to break it up. That scene is a great example of why one should just keep rewriting.”

Lines we love: Joy, as she savors a Krispy Kreme doughnut: “Now tell me — how could anyone not believe in God?”

Writer’s bio: Peter Hedges is also a playwright and novelist. He adapted his first novel, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” for director Lasse Hallstrom. His other adaptations include “About a Boy,” Oscar-nominated for adapted screenplay.

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety