"Pieces of April" was playing on Showtime's HD channel last night just as I was in the mood to settle in for a little TV. So I gave it a shot -- especially since it had Patricia Clarkson, who'd been so terrific in this week's episode of "Six Feet Under." POA was good enough to sit through -- especially since it was pretty short. It had a gritty, indie look, but it was actually over-the-top sentimental. There were two sets of characters: the young woman cooking Thanksgiving dinner with the help of various kindly, ethnically diverse neighbors in her NY apartment building and her family traveling toward that apartment in a car. In both locations, as you might expect, the characters encounter various troubles. You can see the wheels cranking away in the screenwriters' brains: Now what tiny obstacle can we toss in their path? The oven breaks. The neighbors don't speak English. The mom in the car has to puke.
Whenever a bunch of movie characters are stuck in a car for a long enough time, there's always a scene where they stop the car, and let the actors out onto the shoulder of the road to gesticulate and argue and plead with each other about some damned thing. Count on one actor to start walking off as if they are so emotional they've lost touch with the fact that they're going to need transportation. Count on another actor to follow along after them and have an intense encounter with the first actor that culminates with them getting back in the car and continuing on.
A funny thing about this movie for me is that it's the second movie I've seen this summer where I watched the whole movie with no idea who the young actress was until it was over and I saw that it was Katie Holmes. (The other movie is "Batman Begins.") That li'l Katie is cute, but somehow I'm incapable of remembering her face. I wonder why. There are many blander actress-faces than hers out there these days.