Pieces of a Woman movie review: Vanessa Kriby shines in this moving drama
Kornél Mundruczó's film is a shattering story of a mother’s loss, her mourning, denial, and final redemption
Pieces of a Woman’s prologue is among the most intense and painful opening sequences in recent times. The film’s protagonist, Martha (Vanessa Kirby), goes through labour while her partner Sean (Shai LaBeouf) does all he can to calm her, his anxious, nauseous, and hurting lover. Their midwife, Barbara, becomes unavailable due to an emergency and sends Eva (Molly Parker) as her replacement. The following stretch of events is brilliantly captured in a single shot by director Kornel Mundruczo, who has made the scene look and feel like a candid video of real home birth.
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook
Kornél Mundruczó’s film relies largely on the performances, and he has secured the services of the right actors. Vanessa Kirby (best known as Princess Margaret in The Crown) delivers an affecting performance, and her pain seems to radiate into our homes from within the television. Shia LaBeouf pretends to be composed, while still being a father who fears the worst. When the worst really happens, what follows is a harrowing ride that transforms the lives of this couple forever.
Over months and seasons, the relationship rots, as the personal disaster sends the two into different trajectories. Sean breaks his six-year-long sobriety and turns into an abusive partner, who labels himself ‘boorish’. Martha, who cannot forget the past, thanks to society, turns cold and desolate. It is excruciating to watch the ways in which a woman is held accountable by society.
I loved how Kornél Mundruczó doesn’t come up with a dramatic revelation for the same of the film. Even when the film seems to meander, it seems deliberate, and reflective of the reality of life. This is a film, that despite any faults, has its heart in the right place.