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Pieces of a Woman struggles to maintain momentum after a stunning opening act, but Vanessa Kirby's performance makes the end result a poignant portrait of grief. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Sean (Shia LaBeouf) 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 Sean and her domineering mother (Ellen Burstyn), along with the publicly vilified midwife (Molly Parker), whom she must face in court.

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Critic Reviews for Pieces of a Woman

All Critics (217) | Top Critics (58) | Fresh (164) | Rotten (53)

Audience Reviews for Pieces of a Woman

  • Jan 20, 2021
    30 mins of this film takes place before the title credits even appear and it's quite possibly the best 30 mins of any film from 2020. It's powerfully delivered by White God director Kornél Mundruczó in his depiction of a home birth that captures the intensity of such an experience. I was hugely taken aback by the films opening power just as much as I'm taken aback by the films somewhat lukewarm reception. I can only assume it's because the pace dramatically reduces from then on in which really wasn't an issue for me. This is a devastating human drama with a trio of superb performances from Shia LaBeouf, Molly Parker and Ellen Burstyn but the film belongs to Vanessa Kirby who really shines with her disassociated depiction of a grieving woman struggling to maintain a grip on her emotions. There's a few heavy handed metaphors that don't entirely work but they weren't enough to spoil my overall enjoyment. It's an emotional film and a grim watch but it's superbly delivered by all involved.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2021
    I almost never watch movies like these -- mega-drama releases during Oscar season. But in my first year reviewing on Letterboxd, movies like this appear so consistently in the "Popular with Friends" feed I find myself drawn to them. And after forcing my self to watch PIeces of a Woman knowing I'd struggle, I think I'm going with my gut next time around. I don't really have much to add to what's been said before. The birth scene is heart wrenching. The acting is phenomenal. Shia Lebouf's performance was so excellent I kept wanting to slap myself in the face reminding myself that he's a complete asshole. But the bulk of the movie after the first act is just painful to sit through. Not because of the depressing subject matter. Nothing really gels. Overall it felt like a jigsaw puzzle that was half completed.
    Mark B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 2021
    More an acting exercise than a fully developed movie, Pieces of a Woman is a punishing experience for the audience as much as the actors onscreen. The entire first 30 minutes is comprised of watching a home birth in an extended long take, which doesn't so much immerse you in the situation as beg the question of, "How'd they do that?" The sequence concludes with a rushed delivery and an asphyxiated child, and then we cut to the title screen. From there, it's 90 minutes of what agonizing grief does to this family. Vanessa Kirby (The Crown) plays the mother and she doesn't want to let go but also feels uncomfortable that their flustered midwife is being charged with negligent homicide. Her boyfriend (Shia LaBeouf) is struggling to maintain their relationship and move past their shared tragedy. Her mother (Ellen Burstyn) is a domineering presence and wants the boyfriend gone and the midwife in jail. It's all very well acted and Kirby does a fine job dredging up pure emotional devastation. The problem is that Pieces of a Woman has seemed to confuse drama with plot. There are many dramatic moments that occur but they don't really provide greater insight into the main characters who are, at their core from that half-hour mark onward, broken people coming to terms with their response to the unimaginable. It seems paradoxical because the concept of a grieving family, angry and looking to blame someone, a relationship splintered where each party is potentially having an affair to feel something diverting, mother-daughter head-butting, it all seems like foundational elements of compelling drama. The problem is that we don't ever get progression with the characters and their emotional states from these very dramatic events. They're suffering, they're unhappy, they're numb to the pain yet carrying on, but are they interesting? Are we getting more of a sense over who they are or how they've changed? I would argue no. The movie feels locked into stagnation. I think a major stumbling block was spending so much time establishing a realistic birthing sequence opening, aided by a roving and unblinking camera, when the same information could have been covered in the first ten minutes and not first 30. It's excessive and repetitive, but then so are the 90 minutes that follow that wallow in unchecked misery. It's an approach that can take some of the devastation out of the horrific. Pieces of a Woman will be available on Netflix streaming starting tomorrow and despite its artistic merits and good acting I can't exactly argue that it's worth enduring the pain over. Nate's Grade: C+
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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