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  • Justin Louallen

Pieces Of A Woman - Written Movie Review

Tonight I'm reviewing the Netflix drama film, Pieces Of A Woman, directed by Kornél Mundruczó and stars Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, and Molly Parker.

Boston couple Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Sean (Shia LaBeuof) are expecting their first child together. After a devastating turn of events results in tragedy of her newborn, Martha experiences a life changing journey dealing with grief and loss that impacts not only herself but her loved ones including her mother (Ellen Burstyn).

Now here's a little backstory. When I first saw the trailers for this movie coming out, I got interested especially with its deep and emotional premise dealing with the loss of a newborn child and I've also been keen on seeing Shia LaBeouf making sort of a comeback with starring in independent films including The Peanut Butter Falcon from 2019 and I'm glad to see he's taken more mature roles over the years since his former roles he did in the past, like Transformers. I also have come to enjoy Vanessa Kirby in films that I've seen so far in such as Hobbs and Shaw and Mission Impossible: Fallout, and I hear she is phenomenal in The Crown tv series. After upon seeing the film, I can honestly say that while I did like it, it certainly does have its flaws that hold it back from being great.


The performances are definitely the biggest highlight for me. Vanessa Kirby is sensational in this. She delivers such a haunting, bleak and phenomenal performance as she goes through the motions, and has one of the most realistic portrayals I've seen of a woman giving birth in a film. She definitely carries the movie and I hope she gets nominated for Best Actress for her performance. Shia LaBeouf is also great too, especially scenes where he breaks down and shows intensity dealing with his relationship and aftermath of the aforementioned tragedy. Ellen Burstyn is also outstanding, especially how estranged she is with Martha including a very poignant and emotional scene where the two argue with each other toward the end.

The camera work and direction in this film is truly exquisite. The opening scene features a 24 minute long take birth scene that is not only intense and hard to watch, but definitely showcases the cast at their best and the buildup with Martha going through contractions and feeling the pain of having her newborn.

I also felt like the director was taking some inspiration from Terrance Mallick's filmmaking style in how certain shots are either illustrated with symbolism, including something that involves apples, and close ups of actors in frame that I found pretty remarkable. In addition, the structure worked in context with the story how there's pieces of Martha's grief and sorrow that's scattered throughout the first and second act that, while well intentioned, it does create cons with the writing, which I'll get into later.

The cinematography is also incredible. The bleak and gloomy mood really sets the tone of the film.

The story I'm mixed with. It does have genuine and authentic scenes that explore the strain on Martha and Sean's relationship, including their intimacy and compassion for each other, and it does certainly hit the feels towards the end especially when Martha finally reaches her redemption that affects the others around her. There's also an interesting theme of symbolism that has to do with an apple that I wont spoil. Throughout the majority of the second act however it loses its momentum for a while that causes issues with the writing where I now get into my cons.


The film doesn't really go into much depth with Martha's downfall as I thought it would have because other than a couple of scenes where she's having relationship problems with Sean including their intimacy and lashing out with each other, it feels like there were scenes that were missing that could've really added more to the trauma and devastation she experiences.

I also felt like it lacked development with the way it built on its characters as there's not much going on with some of the other family members that are introduced and then disappear abruptly. This results with its pacing throughout and while it may have been intentional to only show just pieces of her coping with the aftermath, I felt like it definitely needed to explore more than what it established.

Speaking of more exploring, it felt to me like they didn't do much toward the end with Shia LaBeouf's character as he disappears in the 3rd act and it felt like there was no resolution with him and it would've been good to have at least an epilogue or something that shows what happened. The same for some of the other family members as mentioned earlier.

While I like the orchestral score throughout, it feels overly played and didn't fully invest me in some of the dramatic moments that it built upon.

Overall, while it doesn't quite have its emotional weight to it as much as the opening scene and other parts of the story, it definitely is a film that hits the feels where it needs to be and delivers a well meaning portrayal of grief.

Final Grade:

For those who have also seen Pieces Of A Woman, let met know what you thought of it in the comments below, stay safe and I'll see you on my next review.


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