Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pieces of April

I've just watched Pieces of April, starring Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson, directed by Peter Hedges (of What's Eating Gilbert Grape and About A Boy fame).

I was really taken with the character of April's mother (the role for which Patricia Clarkson won Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards in 2003). She brings to life the persona of the mother who doesn't get on with her estranged daughter: post bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer, April's mother is searching for morsels of love and happiness in her disastrous mother-daughter relationship.

The film sees the family (naive father, cynical, badly behaved mother, demented grandmother, pot-smoking brother and goody-two-shoes sister) assemble to visit April in New York on Thanksgiving. The day is clearly set to be a shambles from the word go; this isn't helped by the mother's negativity towards the plans, her behaviour that everybody tolerates as she's ill, and April's various setbacks in preparing the meal.

It's difficult, as the film is about April, but for me the character of the mother took over; there is even a scene, in the car ride to lunch, where Joy, the mother, shows her own mother some photography (taken by April's brother Timmy), of her cancer experience. We see pre and post-op photos. We also experience her nausea at several service-stations along the way. We see her adjust her wig, her fragility.

The film gives a good insight into how someone, cynical and stoical, faces the unhappiness in their life at a time when it's beginning to be too late to be able to do anything about it.

1 comment:

Taz said...

I too enjoyed this film. The style of filming, which could almost be compared to a documentary, made it all the more realistic and perhaps more human. While we could see that April's mother had accepted her illness and had now moved on, the film highlighted how difficult it can be for family to accept a loved one's ill-health.