Thanksgiving is not a conventional religious or political holiday but consists simply of families gathering to love one another and express gratitude. That's the tricky part. There are no theologies to fall back on. It has inspired a uniquely North American group of films. Most of the families in them are troubled, but there is usually a reconciliation, comforting to everyone except the turkey.
Pieces of April is built around the tired premise of a dysfunctional family's Thanksgiving get-together, but-surprise-it's fresh. First-time director Peter Hedges, who co-wrote the scripts for What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and About a Boy, has a feeling for how people behave in extreme situations.