Pieces of April

Just watched Pieces of April for the second time.  My husband is a fan of Patricia Clarkson, and rented the DVD a few years ago.  At the time, I wasn’t too keen on simple production values, but gave it a whirl and was glad I did.  When I saw it was on the HD channel, I wanted to watch again.  What is it about a second viewing of a good film that cements it more securely and deepens the emotional connection with the characters, however flawed they might be?

Warning:  Spoilers ahead.

The character of the mother was really a trip.  Clarkson brought her unusual gifts to this role, fleshing out what a lesser talent could have played as caricature.  To my mind, this would have positively ruined the ending by making it her character’s actions simply predictable; instead they were based on a sudden and deep spiritual reawakening experienced.  A backstory, that she had suffered months of patience, anguish, pain and anger as she dealt with her terminal breast cancer, and that this had irrevocably altered her, was implied beautifully and undramatically.  Clarkson as usual gave us a stunning and understated performance.

I was surprised that Katie Holmes can act well.  I’d seen her in one of the Batman movies, and the role didn’t leave her much room for subtlety, so had incorrectly assumed she was simply one of the many pretty but vapid souls inhabiting the big H.  This role, as April the rebellious daughter, was a better showcase in providing ample space for the actor, and she did well.  Overall, I liked that though we are delivered immediately into the middle of the story, the context was provided by the actions of the characters rather than monologues or gimmicky flashbacks.

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