Just saw this film on DVD tonight with Alisa. It’s a touching, but unique story about a young woman (April) and her family, with her boyfriend Bobby as a secondary arc. The movie shows both halves of an obviously fragmented family as they journey towards Thanksgiving dinner, as hosted by the black sheep April, played by Katie Holmes, in the wilds of what I assume is NYC (don’t remember if they mention it).
The movie is well constructed, revealing more and more texture and depth in the family’s past and relationships in a manner that is neither trite nor predictable (at least not in any bad way). Yet, it skips along from drama and pain to comedy and sentiment in familiar ways. The characters are initially presented in a one dimensional manner, but as we watch them and learn about them (mainly from each other), our assumptions begin to fall away and understanding and empathy emerge. Great performances all around, particularly from Oliver Platt, I thought.*
Ultimately, it’s no earthshaking achievement, but writer/director Peter Hedges does what he does well, (check out his filmography) and does it on an independent budget. Hedges presents us with a well done modern Thanksgiving story that puts just a touch of gloss on life, not by artificially coating it, but by rubbing off some of the soot.
*The scene where his wife is motionless in the passenger seat was so powerful. The impact may be exaggerated since I have a tendency towards paranoia of this sort myself (though I have no legitimate claim to it). Also, this may be my West Wing-alum bias coming out…