Pieces of a Woman (2020) Review

The pacing may be a little off, but damn the performances in this film are freaking spectacular.  Especially Vanessa Kirby.

Certificate: 15

Director: Kornél Mundruczó

Screenwriter: Kata Wéber

Starring: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 126 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Martha and Sean are a Boston couple on the verge of parenthood whose lives change irrevocably when a home birth ends in unimaginable tragedy. Thus begins a yearlong odyssey for Martha, who must navigate her grief while working through fractious relationships with her husband and her domineering mother, along with the publicly vilified midwife, whom she must face in court. A deeply personal, searing, and ultimately transcendent story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss. Written by Netflix

Wow.  Just Wow.  I watched this film as part of the #FridayFakeCinemaClub on twitter and holy moly am I glad that I didn’t talk myself out of this one.  When I read the synopsis online I was unsure if it would be for me.  Traditionally weepy type films don’t really do it for me and I didn’t relish the idea of spending two hours being depressed.  And while yes, you do kinda spend the whole runtime feeling very emotional and very low, the performances in this film are worth watching for alone.

After a few initial scenes at the beginning introducing us to our characters, we are immediately thrown into a thirty minute long, single shot of the labour, which was just phenomenal.  I don’t think I took a breath the entire time.  This isn’t a sugar coated, made-for-hollywood, kind of labour scene.  This shows exactly how it is and that would be powerful on it’s own.  But my god does Vanessa Kirby give a good performance in this opening scene.  From the moment her water breaks to the devastating conclusion of the labour, the camera barely leaves her and she shoulders that responsibility with ease, gives us an Oscar worthy performance, and that doesn’t let up throughout the whole film.

For me there was a bit of a lull in the middle of the film where we are just watching the slow decay of Martha and Sean’s marriage.  It was interspersed with a few really powerful moments, Ellen Burstyn gives a truly fantastic monologue during one particular scene.  But because quite a lot of the time there is no dialogue, and the backgrounds are all a bit drab and colourless to reflect Martha’s mood, the middle of the film does feel a little long.

I am not a huge fan of Shia LaBeouf either on or off screen, but I do think that his character was kind of shafted in this film.  He did a total personality 180, and then was given no means with which to redeem himself.  I was disappointed in the way his character was just sort of, discarded towards the end and made into a thoroughly dislikeable person.

If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, ‘Piece of a Woman’ is streaming now on Netflix and I would highly recommend you give it a try,

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