You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.

More Film

  • 'Lady Bird,' 'Three Billboards' Fly High,

    'Lady Bird,' 'Three Billboards' Fly High, Netflix Mum on 'Mudbound' Results

    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 […]

  • get out Oscar Race

    'Get Out' and the Golden Globes: A Lesson Not to Laugh At

    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 […]

  • Justice League

    Box Office: 'Justice League' Scores $185 Million International Opening, Led by China

    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 […]

  • 'Justice League' Opens With Gloomy $96

    Box Office: 'Justice League' Opens With Gloomy $96 Million in North America

    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 […]

  • Viacom Halts 'Padmavati' Release After Religious

    Viacom Halts 'Padmavati' Release After Religious Uproar

    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 […]

  • EuropaCorp Sells French TV Production Unit

    Luc Besson's EuropaCorp Sells French TV Production Unit for $13 Million

    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 […]

  • IDFA: Syrian Comedian Looks for Fresh

    IDFA: Syrian Comedian Looks for Fresh Start in France

    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 […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content