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Review: Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Directed by: Kornel Mundruczó | 126 minutes | drama | Actors: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Sarah Snook, Molly Parker, Steven McCarthy, Tyrone Benskin, Frank Schorpion, Harry Standjofski, Domenic Di Rosa, Jimmie Fails

Netflix’s newest addition ‘Pieces of a Woman’ takes us to the poignant opening shot in an apartment where Martha contractions come every six minutes. Then the membranes break, which speeds up the birth of their daughter considerably. Her friend Sean immediately calls their own midwife, but has to inform his girlfriend that a substitute is coming. So far, this home birth is like so many others. Eva, the substitute midwife, arrives and plunges the ambiance into calm and serenity. She knows her trade and suggests that Martha take a bath to relax. When she suddenly feels the urge to squeeze in the hot water, Sean immediately helps his girlfriend out of the bathtub. Some blood drips into the bath water and the baby’s heart rate drops.

Martha and Sean are a beautiful couple from two completely different litters. They live together in a nice apartment and the nursery is also ready. Nothing stands in the way of the happiness of these young parents. Sean, an ex-addict, oversees the construction of a large bridge, and Martha is a descendant of a wealthy prominent family. Despite this gap in origin and upbringing, they fit like a lid on a pot. Martha and Sean are one together. He adores his girlfriend and she obviously adores him. In every minute that passes, you are a silent witness to the love and respect between these two. But they have never been able to comprehend that their lives change so traumatically in a split second. As well as the trail of destruction that unfolds in the months that follow.

The total delivery feels like one long shot of no less than twenty minutes and the Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó – known for stylized films such as ‘Johanna’ and ‘White God’ – has executed it very well. In his English-language and realistic debut, his cinematographic inspiration contributes greatly to the tension that palpably builds up during the intense and very intimate depiction of Martha’s birth. Raw, but refined within the framework of tastefully kept. If you didn’t know better, you would think that British actress Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”) who plays Martha actually gives birth to a child with her innate primal power. It’s also quite right that Kirby received the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival. Sean’s role is in the capable hands of Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers” and “Disturbia”). He plays the character of Sean in an unmoved way and under his breath. As a spectator you can’t help but be touched by the acute all-consuming tragedy that is portrayed perfectly, sincerely and without pathetic frills by these young actors. From soul mates to wandering souls. Torn apart and sedated. ‘Pieces of a Woman’ is a film that stays under your skin for a while. A truly impressive addition to the Netflix arsenal.

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