Pieces of a Woman (2020) – Review

A young couple, Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Sean (Shia LaBeouf), opt for a home birth, but quickly find themselves in an incomprehensibly tragic situation when their new-born baby suddenly dies. After this, the pair begin to delve into a deep state of mourning and depression, which lasts over the coming months, thus not only testing their own relationship, but their relationship with friends and family around them too. A deeply upsetting and shockingly raw film that has just been released on Netflix.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Director: Kornel Mundruczo
Writers: Kata Weber
Starring: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn

Having only seen the trailer for Pieces of a Woman recently, I knew this wasn’t going to be a film that could be taken lightly, especially with it focusing around such an upsetting and sensitive subject as losing a child. Straight from the opening act you managed to get a handle of just how emotionally draining the remainder of the runtime was set to be – the filmmakers opted for an exceptionally long and suspenseful opening sequence, with much of it being an extended single continuous shot.

In dramas as heavy and hard hitting as this, the filmmakers had to do a good job of capturing the right amount of grief and anger that the characters should convey, and it’s fair to say they did this well. As touched upon, relationships were put the test, and this seemed like a good dive into how some people would react to such an impactful event, such as the one focused on in Pieces of a Woman. Another rather impressive feature had the be way the in which there constantly seemed to be a sense of suspense and anticipation lingering in the background of many of the scenes – almost like you could cut the tension with a knife. Despite this, nothing of major substance or anything could be considered shocking rarely happened. Something that some people would consider a minor flaw.

In terms of the cast, the acting more than likely steals the show. Vanessa Kirby adopted the role of Martha and did a spectacular job of portraying a fractured and damaged woman going through the most difficult period a time in her life – while Shia LaBeouf was equally as good in his role as Sean. Elsewhere, there were appearances for Iliza Shlesinger, Sarah Snook and Benny Safdie, who depicted Anita, Suzanne and Chris respectively.

One person that almost stole the show in her support role, however, was Ellen Burstyn. The experienced actress was handed the role of Elizabeth, and put in one or two rather memorable scenes, especially when alongside her on-screen daughter, Martha.

All in all, with a rather steady runtime of one-hundred and twenty-six minutes, this probably isn’t the shortest and most action-packed release from Netflix, but it’s one that has the potential to take you on a rollercoaster of emotions from minute one. Certainly worth a watch.

“I’m ashamed of me. That I wasn’t a good enough mother to teach you how to stand up and speak for yourself, for God’s sakes.”

Elizabeth – Pieces of a Woman

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