7.1/10
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Pieces of a Woman (2020)

R | | Drama | 7 January 2021 (USA)
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When a young mother's home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.

Director:

Kornél Mundruczó

Writer:

Kata Wéber
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Popularity
5 ( 236)
2 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vanessa Kirby ... Martha
Shia LaBeouf ... Sean
Ellen Burstyn ... Elizabeth
Iliza Shlesinger ... Anita
Benny Safdie ... Chris
Sarah Snook ... Suzanne
Molly Parker ... Eva
Steven McCarthy ... Photographer
Tyrone Benskin ... Judge
Frank Schorpion ... Lane
Harry Standjofski ... Court Clerk
Domenic Di Rosa ... Medical Examiner
Jimmie Fails ... Max
Juliette Casagrande Juliette Casagrande ... Little Girl
Gayle Garfinkle Gayle Garfinkle ... Judith
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Storyline

Martha and Sean are a Boston couple on the verge of parenthood whose lives change irrevocably when a home birth ends in unimaginable tragedy. Thus begins a yearlong odyssey for Martha, who must navigate her grief while working through fractious relationships with her husband and her domineering mother, along with the publicly vilified midwife, whom she must face in court. A deeply personal, searing, and ultimately transcendent story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss. Written by Netflix

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexual content, graphic nudity and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shia LaBoeuf's character claims that the bridge on the painting in the attorney's office is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the state of Washington. That's not true. The bridge on the painting is the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. See more »

Goofs

When Sean sees a painting on the wall of Suzanne's office, he claims that it's the Tacoma Bridge. That is a painting of the Bosphorus Bridge, which is in Istanbul, Turkey. It can be easily distinguished from the mosque next to it. See more »

Quotes

Elizabeth: And 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. And to deal with this. Like my mother taught me. After my father went into the ghetto, my mother found a shack, an empty shack, that she went into and gave birth to me. Without any help at all. She stashed me under the floorboards when she had to go out and steal food. So she could make milk enough to keep me alive, but just alive. Not strong enough to cry, or we'd be ...
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Soundtracks

In a Sentimental Mood (Instr.)
Written by Duke Ellington
Performed by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
Courtesy of The Verve Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

 
the smell of apples
29 December 2020 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. It happens sometimes, but rarely. A single sequence in a film is so profound or unusual or artistic or affecting, that it alone makes the film worth watching. Such is the case with the labor-birth-midwife scene in this film from real life partners, Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo and writer Kata Weber. Much of it is an extended single continuous shot, and it occurs within the first half hour.

The only set up we get is that the husband, Sean (Shia LaBeouf) is on the construction crew building a new bridge, and that his wife Martha (Vanessa Kirby) is extremely pregnant on her final day of work before maternity leave. A strained relationship with Martha's mother is evident as she buys the couple a minivan. At home, the couple seems excited about the upcoming arrival of their first baby. When her water breaks, they are initially upset that their midwife can't make it for a home delivery, but soon enough, Eva (Molly Parker), shows up as a replacement and takes charge. The remarkable sequence is filmed in tight shots that add to the tension and come across as ultra-realistic as Ms. Kirby's strenuous performance.

The rest of the film follows the differing ways the couple, especially Martha, deals with the crushing emotional pain and unfathomable grief that comes with losing a child. It's the kind of tragedy that can tear apart a relationship and change, if not destroy, a person. Martha becomes isolated as she tries to make sense of something where logic doesn't apply. Sean is unable to connect with her, but falls into her mother's camp of seeking to avenge the pain. Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn plays Martha's domineering mother, and she is determined to make the midwife pay through jail time.

The rest of the film can't match that birth sequence for tension, but the cast is superb in capturing the various faces of grief. Ms. Kirby is a revelation and she immerses herself in the role - something frequent movie watchers will immediately recognize. Whether she's huffing with labor pains, sniffing apples in a grocery store, or floating through days and nights in a state of numbness, we feel every bit of what she's processing. LaBeouf handles the initial pain very well, but he's let down by the script through the balance of the story. Ms. Burstyn and Ms. Kirby each get another chance to shine as they face off at a family dinner in Act 3. Supporting work comes from Benny Safdie (actor-director known for co-directing offbeat films with his brother Josh), Iliza Schlesinger as Martha's sister, and Sarah Snook as the prosecuting attorney (and family member).

Scandal surrounds the project, not because of anything that happened during production, but instead due to the accusations Shia LaBeouf is facing from a former girlfriend. Separating the accusations from the performance is a choice each viewer will have to make on their own, and it can be noted that he, while a significant player in the story, is not the main focus. Chapter headings by month are used to assist us with knowing how much time has passed, and the under-construction bridge from the first scene acts as a metaphor in the film's final scene as the new reality is faced. Despite being a tough watch at times, and having a first act that sets an unsustainable bar, there is a lot to admire about the film. Martin Scorsese is listed as an Executive Producer and 3-time Oscar winner Howard Shore delivers a nice score. Living with loss is never easy, and at times seems impossible. In theaters December 30, 2020 and on Netflix January 7, 2021


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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

Canada | Hungary | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 January 2021 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pieces of a Woman See more »

Filming Locations:

Montreal, Québec, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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