If they've got no idea what the movie is about though, they might regret that decision.
The movie appears to start innocently enough as Boston couple Martha (Kirby) and Sean (Shia LaBeouf) get ready for the birth of their first child. He's urging his workmates to get a bridge completed as he wants to drive his daughter over it, she's enduring an awkward last-day baby shower party at work.
Later that evening, Martha's contractions start and Pieces of a Woman starts a bravura one-take sequence that lasts close to 25 minutes. We experience every aspect of Martha's home birth in the kind of stark detail that has rarely been depicted on screen. Kirby gives a magnetic, no-holds-barred performance, inspired by a birth she witnessed during her preparation for the role.
It's a sequence that runs the gamut from the hope and beauty of the birth to the terror and trauma when things start to go wrong. With the one-take approach, filmmakers Kornél Mundruczó and Kata Wéber give us no respite from it and we feel intrusive, enduring every emotion felt in the room.
When the sequence ends in a horrifying moment of silence, broken only by incoming ambulance sirens, you'll want to take a break from the screen. However, as the title card finally shows up 30 minutes in, it's only just the start of Pieces of a Woman – and you'll have to live in Martha and Sean's grief for a while yet.
And in truth, the movie never really recovers from its unforgettable opening.
We follow Martha over the next six months as she learns to live with the tragedy of losing her baby, while her relationships to Sean and her mother Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn) are pushed to breaking point by their differing reactions to the traumatic events.
Where Martha retreats into herself and is accused of being cold in her reaction, Sean increasingly becomes abusive and violent towards her. It's uncomfortable to watch not just for the events on screen, but also the recent lawsuit filed by FKA Twigs against LaBeouf for alleged "relentless abuse". (LaBeouf has been removed from marketing for Pieces of a Woman following the allegations.)
But really, even if it wasn't for this, Pieces of a Woman would have been better served focusing on Martha, rather than casting its net wider by following Sean's indiscretions too. Vanessa Kirby gives a career-best performance that deservedly will see her in awards contention, and the power of her performance means that whenever she's not on screen, the movie falls flat.
It's commendable that the filmmakers have chosen to focus on what could be seen as a taboo subject on screen. We've seen characters deal with the loss of a baby before, but it's usually an inciting event rather the focus of an entire movie.
However, Pieces of a Woman finds itself bogged down in metaphors about bridges and apple seeds rather than exploring the subject in a compelling way. It doesn't help that it eventually ends up in a melodramatic courtroom battle as the midwife (Molly Parker) faces a criminal trial for the death of Martha's baby. Things end too neatly when the reality for any couple who's gone through a similar event would be anything but.
There are still moments in Pieces of a Woman where the strength of the performances ensure it hits emotionally, such as when an unexpected family reunion late in the movie leads to an argument between Martha and her mother. Vanessa Kirby and Ellen Burstyn relish every hurtful barb that they throw at each other, with Burstyn nailing a devastating final line that'll make you gasp.
However, for the most part, Pieces of a Woman just can't live up to its unforgettable and powerful opening, despite the best efforts of Vanessa Kirby.
Pieces of a Woman is available to watch now on Netflix.
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