Now let’s just start right off by acknowledging for those who don’t know me, I am a huge cry-baby when it comes to movies and TV. I will cry at anything and everything, no matter the genre. Needless to say, when I found out I was able to get an advanced screener of Pieces of a Woman, I knew that this movie was going to make me emotional. I set aside time to watch it twice because I figured the first run through I’d probably be too busy crying to actually see what was going on.
I will say the first time around, I was actually quite proud of myself and I barely cried. There was maybe a quick tear or two, but nothing too extreme, but nothing compared to what I was anticipating. This surprised me because this movie is so raw, emotional and well done that in all seriousness I absolutely should have been a mess. The story follows Martha (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby) and Sean (Honey Boy’s Shia LaBeouf), a young couple about to have their first baby together. Tragically, things don’t go as planned and we follow them through their journey of grief, love, and the roller coaster that ensues when those around them try to cope with a terrible loss. I will say, in the second watch, I actually did cry more than the first so don’t think that this movie will not make you feel something – it will.
The performances by Kirby and LaBeouf, but Kirby’s in particular, were outstanding, and I can see why this movie is already getting a lot of buzz surrounding it. The one specific part of note that has been piquing a lot of interest around film-lovers is the approximately 20 minute single-shot scene of the child birth. I’m not going to lie, the first time around I was too busy being terrified of the thought of pregnancy and giving birth to even notice that it all happened in one go, but after I went back the second time around it really is pretty astounding how well it flowed. None of the actors broke for even a second, and I can’t even imagine how daunting it would have been to be on that set at the time. Kirby really does an amazing job at making you understand her level of fear and pain, which is something I really admire when it comes to pregnancy in media. This isn’t one of those movies that child-birth looks glorious and care-free where the mother comes out looking as though she never broke a sweat. Be warned that there are some parts that are quite graphic, so if you’re squeamish you might want to be prepared to avert your eyes. I don’t want to say too much on LaBeouf’s performance given the recent media coverage of his abuse allegations because we don’t take kindly to abusers here, but I will say that this role fit him perfectly. Sean is charming, charismatic, and you feel for him pretty quickly in the film before realizing he’s an addict with a lot of troubling issues. Needless to say, LaBoeuf plays that role well.
What I really liked most about this movie was that everybody, and I mean everybody, ends up being both the villain and the hero in their own ways. It does a great job at showing grief with the knowledge that everybody handles things differently and at their own pace, which doesn’t always bode well for family relationships. People often feel the need to take care of those around them by doing what helps them personally, however that is not always what others need in order to heal. This movie explores that really well, and showcases that everybody is capable of both healthy coping mechanisms and emotions as well as toxic ones.
This movie is a rollercoaster at the best of times, but it is definitely worth a watch if you’re into drama films at all. It’s a little slow-paced, as most are, but it’s worth it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching it again.
Pieces of a Woman will be available for streaming on Netflix starting January 7th.