Pieces Of A Woman Review: It Will Shatter You

Pieces  Of A  Woman(Netflix)

Starring Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Jimmie Fails Ellen Burstyn.

Directed  by  Kornél MundruczóRating: *** 

After seeing this sobering film I was  discussing it with my friend Sanjay Leela Bhansali.On hearing  me  out he said, “Why  do you watch such depressing films at a time like this when we need hope sunshine  and laughter?  Watch  happy films, not these misery  tales.”

I  admit I  was  depressed for days after seeing Pieces Of A Woman. It is not an easy watch. But then who said life is easy? The film opens with a heavily pregnant Martha giving an  entirely new definition to home delivery by  having her baby at home with a  midwife to  guide Martha  and her husband Sean through the  process. 

I  wasn’t aware  that babies are still born (no pun  intended) at home. The  director takes us through  the  entire procedure in  harrowing detail. Like I said,  this is  not for those who think  entertainment in cinema is for laughs. 

Soon after birth, the baby  stops  breathing. I admit for a second, so did I. Hungarian director  Kornél Mundruczó(whose earlier works Tender Son and White God didn’t impress me much) doesn’t let us  off the  for even a second, as we are  immersed headlong into  Martha and Sean’s  catastrophic tryst with  parenthood. The marriage falls apart piece  by piece.Though  poor Sean  tries his  best  to  revive the marriage vows. 

Nothing works. Not sex  for sure. There is  a long and squirmy sequence  where Sean tries to force himself  on Martha. Strangely  Kirby remains  clothed throughout while LeBeouf never  shy of being seen in the buff , goes full frontal for the  camera. In a  later  highly unconvincing sequence when Sean has sex with his wife’s  lawyer in the case against  the midwife(Molly Parker) there too we see only LeBeouf naked.

Such  stabs at lopsided neo-realism are distracting and eventually reduce the film’s emotional  impact considerably. I wanted this to be   a film about a couple grieving for their lost baby.Not  about  the midwife  crisis, the  court case, the  horny lawyer and the grieving heroine’s bossy rich mom(the very fine  veteran actress Ellen Burstyn struggling to  supplant conviction into her  uni dimensional part).

The family scenes strike  a bogus  note. But Kirby and LaBeouf are so convincing as  the angry bereaved parents that I  forgave the  film for its weird distractions. Pieces Of  A Woman pulls you  into the couple’s  grief but not  deep enough.

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