Pieces of a Woman feels unbearably real

Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman

Pieces of a Woman tells the story of a parent’s worst nightmare. Vanessa Kirby plays a woman whose child dies just minutes after being born. Everyone in the film deals with the grief in their own way, but Kirby’s Martha is so real in her agony that it’s painful to sit with her for the 2 hours of the film.

Pieces of a Woman begins with a home birth. The midwife they were expecting to attend was unable to come because of another birth.

Molly Parker and Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman

The alternate midwife was Eva (Molly Parker), someone Vanessa and her husband Sean (Shia LaBeouf) didn’t know. When Eva alerted them that the baby’s heartbeat was weak and asked them to call an ambulance, they didn’t do it right away. It only took minutes for the situation to become a horror.

We’ve all heard about the stages of grief that people go through after a loss. Each character goes through the stages in a unique way.

Sean takes to drinking and drugs. He has an affair. He loses his job building a bridge. The completion of this bridge is a frequent symbol as the characters journey through their grief.

Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman

Martha’s mother (Ellen Burstyn) solves problems with money. She wants to sue the midwife and put her in prison. Martha’s sister and extended family tend to agree with this quest for someone to blame.

Ellen Burstyn has a smallish part, but she gets a powerful monologue that reminds you why she one of our greatest actors.

Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman

Martha is not interested in the lawsuit. She does inexplicable things like become obsessed with apples and sprouting apple seeds. She lets everything in the house go to ruin and mold and wither. She watches other people’s children. She wanders the streets of Boston.

I haven’t seen Vanessa Kirby in much. The only thing I recall is The Crown. Yet she has 33 credits on IMDB. She deserves the praise she’s earned for this role and has hooked me a fan who will follow her to other work.

This film was written by Kata Wéber and directed by Kornél Mundruczó. I think it will be very difficult for some people to watch. For all its sensitivity, it’s still a hard slog to stick with Martha until she reaches acceptance and is able to continue with life.

Pieces of a woman poster

Here’s the trailer for Pieces of a Woman, which is streaming on Netflix.

Do you plan to watch this one?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

4 thoughts on “Pieces of a Woman feels unbearably real”

  1. Your comments set the stage for the mental frame of mind I will need to be in before I sit down to watch. Vanessa Kirby was memorable in The Crown. I also look forward to following her career.

    Excellent review and thank you for the heads up on the subject matter and intensity of this film.

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