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.