Pieces of a Woman: A touching reflection of trauma, then grief


Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf prove themselves as acting powerhouses, compelling you to give this sincerely told story your undivided attention.

I won't profess to be an authority in postnatal grief, but the way that this director (Kornél Mundruczó) affectionately invites his Netflix audience into the lives of Martha (Kirby) and Sean (LaBeouf) inspires empathy to a tremendously personal level. Pieces of a Woman begins with an impressive prolonged one-take that manages to fully engross you into both their home and their intrinsic unease during a heartbreaking home birth. Following this, Martha is left grappling with a deep-rooted emotional fallout, isolated from her partner and family by a wall of grief.

Their story is tragic and, thanks to a brilliant combination of imagery and performance, it never fails to feel completely genuine. The camera often doesn't move, instead it puts the acting above all else in the filmmaking process. In doing so, it doesn't let you take your eyes off the humanity and emotions that populate almost every scene. It will hold you there so you can feel every ounce of their pain.

But that would never be possible without stunning performances from Shia LaBeouf and, perhaps more notably, The Crown's Vanessa Kirby. They elevate the film to another level and it'll be interesting to see how the best actress nominations pan out during the Oscars in April.

Pieces of a Woman is not a film for those who are looking for a quick-fix thrill or romanticised escapism. Far from it. It is for those who want to experience a story that, I can imagine, is so wretchedly close to home for many families. Howard Shore's score is untypically forgettable. This doesn't matter though, as Mundruczó's meticulously crafted direction completely immerses you into the world of this couple, effortlessly supported by two incredibly powerful performances.

So... Any Good? It's a highly compelling must-watch.

Available now on Netflix.