Title – Pieces of a Woman (2020)
Director – Kornél Mundruczó (Jupiter’s Moon)
Cast – Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Benny Safdie, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook
Plot – Following a tumultuous and tragic home birth, couple Martha (Kirby) and Sean (LaBeouf) struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives and their relationship.
“Go out there and face that woman”
Review by Eddie on 22/03/2021
Beginning with what can only be described as one of the most gripping, terrifying and well-executed movie openings in recent memory, Pieces of a Woman is a film that at first appears to be destined for great things but sadly Kornél Mundruczó’s dramatic expose of loss and trauma can’t quite recapture the strength of its first stretch as it flatlines out into a more by the numbers affair that never grips us like it should.
Featuring an awards caliber performance from rising star Vanessa Kirby as expectant and then grieving mother Martha and another impressive turn from the recently on song Shia LaBeouf as her recovering alcoholic partner Sean, Pieces is a prestigious affair in ways and one of the more confronting Hollywood dramas of the 2020 crop but the best work of its performers and careful direction of Mundruczó can’t make its rather dry character development and delivery work as it progresses in increasingly depressive territory.
Throwing us headfirst into the films central concept of a home birth gone very wrong and the after effects of such a tragedy on those involved is a strong act from the film but after the films title card appears and we as an audience re-gain our collective breath the film begins to quickly stagnant into relationship and trauma drama 101 scenarios and sadly Kirby and LaBeouf don’t get to play off one another as much as you would have liked to see as the films plethora of ideas and situations such as Sean’s potential addiction relapse, a court cast against Molly Parker’s nurse Eva and Martha’s extreme personal struggles don’t all combine together to create the cohesive whole that would’ve been befitting of the films initial impact.
It’s not to say that elements of the film aren’t gripping in their own ways, whenever Kirby or LaBeouf take center stage its hard to look away, with it a joy to see Kirby in particular get her meatiest Hollywood role yet that showcases her immense abilities outside of TV shows such as The Crown or bit parts in films like Mission Impossible: Fallout or Hobbs and Shaw, but the film begins to very quickly feel like a collection of scattered scenes that Mundruczó is unable to explore to their full potential, even if quiet moments of grace and humanity within the film are heartbreakingly released, with a final scene to remember of particular note in this instance.
At days end there are times where Pieces feels as though its close to greatness other moments where it feels like a merely going through the motions experience and while some are likely to be gripped by it more so than others and potentially even emotionally devastated by the events it depicts, one can’t help but feel as though this effort represent a missed opportunity to create something unforgettable.
Final Say –
A solid drama that is worth seeing for its stunning opening and its central performances, Pieces of a Woman falters in the wake of its incendiary start to become a solid but unfocused run of the mill drama.
3 bridges out of 5