Best Movies set around ‘Thanksgiving’ — II


Scent of a Woman (1992)


Martin Brest’s heartwarming, character-driven drama is bolstered by the Oscar winning, landmark performance from Al Pacino as blind veteran colonel Frank Slade. This is a coming-of-age story about Charlie Simms, who spends his Thanksgiving weekend by working as the aide for the embittered Slade. The work which begins with a motive of money opens the eyes of the lad to the urgent and soulful attributes of life. The indelible wisecracks in the script allow Mr. Pacino to reveal his great versatility, as this movie perfectly juxtaposes a flamboyant performance and a quieter foil.


Nobody’s Fool (1994)


The charisma of Paul Newman as Sully and the unobtrusive direction of Benton combine to form this unsurprising meditation on growing old in America. Set between the Thanksgiving holiday and New Year, the film tracks the loneliness of Sully and of other people in the decrepit town. The old man, Sully is seen as a never do-gooder, but when his relationship with former employer Bruce Willis, landlady Jessica Tandy and other colorful towns people emerge, we get to see a whole different person. It is a feel-good Thanksgiving flick, which humanely depicts the flawed characters, trying to cope in hard times.


Home for the Holidays (1995)


Jodie Foster’s unsugared ‘Thanksgiving’ movie has a scenario that has been often seen: Families literally separated by distance and time see each other only at Thanksgiving holidays. The excellent cast consists of hilarious Holly Hunter as daughter, nagging Anne Bancroft as mother, scatterbrained Charles Dunning as father and a frivolous Robert Downey Jr. as brother. The best part of this flick is that it surpasses the joke and digs deep into each character to provide a recognizable family of real people, not just caricatures. And finally, vividly drawn directorial attempt by Foster is like a eulogy to the great American tradition of family gathering.


The Ice Storm (1997)


Ang Lee’s unremittingly bleak suburban drama about culture shock is set in 1973 Thanksgiving weekend, in New Canaan, Connecticut – a depressing town with frozen glace. Extra-marital affairs, adolescent disenchantment and various family crises are blended in this socio-political movie, which perfectly evocates the fads, habits and attitudes of the early American ’70s. Apart from the spot-on performances of thespians Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Joan Allen, the film has unrestrained directorial vision of Ang Lee, which is devoid soap-opera melodramatics. This is not a feel-good movie for a Thanksgiving weekend, but this morality play, set around the traditions, never gets preachy or boring.


Pieces of April (2003)


Peter Hedges’ dysfunctional family drama has all the perfect ingredients of a holiday classic. A young girl, April Burns lives in a run-down apartment with her boyfriend and has invited her estranged family for Thanksgiving. The Burns family, especially the terminally ill mother, has no interest to visit April. However, many exciting elements come together in this harmonious reconciliation tale. Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson, as daughter and mother give one of their career best performances. This film is neither a mad-cap comedy nor a dark, gritty drama. It finds an excellent middle ground and brings out the significance of the Thanksgiving tradition – to make exultantly warmth family memories. It is a perfect portrait about the Turkey time and above all — love.


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