Pieces of a Woman Broke Me

There might be a reason for what happened, but we are not gonna find it in this room. And if I stand here and ask for compensation or money, then I am- I’m saying that I can be compensated, and I can’t.

Gut-wrenching, anxiety inducing, emotional are a few words to describe Pieces of a Woman, which is now streaming on Netflix. Going into a movie blind is always a wild ride, but I was nowhere near prepared for the much hyped first 30 minutes, also known as the most stressful minutes of my life.

It’s a grueling depiction of every soon-to-be parent’s very worst nightmare: A home birth gone terribly wrong.

This isn’t a movie for everyone. “It’s difficult to watch” is a phrase uttered by most, but the payoff is worth the emotional roller coaster ride. I described this portrait of grief and loss as a “not so happy” movie to a friend, but the more I think about it, the more uplifted I feel.

When a young mother’s home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.

The film had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival where lead Vanessa Kirby won the Volpi Cup for best actress (promising Oscar foreshadowing?). It also stars hot mess Shia LaBeouf and five decade Hollywood staple, Academy Award winner (six Oscar noms over her career) Ellen Burstyn.

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Pieces of a Woman marks the English-language debut for  Kornél Mundruczó, who gained a following with his breakout film White God. Mundruczó and screenwriter Kata Wéber (who are married) have one child together and took inspiration from their own experience with a miscarriage. Their experience they explained, however, is far from the movie.

You do not see the moment of the baby’s death, because, said Mundruczó, “I really didn’t want to go there. Not just because of the voyeurism, but also because I would like to tell a story about grace, love, and strength, and not just about loss and tragedy.” via Decider

There are so many layers to this movie that make it a fascinating watch. From the moment Martha’s water breaks to the sequence’s devastating conclusion was all shot in a single take. Not only that, but much of that scene’s dialogue was improvised, along with Ellen Burstyn’s Oscar-worthy monologue toward the end (Seriously, Ellen? You had me in tears, girl).

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My only complaint is that the movie looses a little steam following a fantastic first half, but picks up speed toward the conclusion. The acting by Kirby and Burstyn are both Oscar-worthy, and worth the buzz they’re receiving.

The subject matter is far from light, and particularly brutal (especially for mothers), but don’t loose focus on the fact that this is a movie about strength and perseverance amidst one of the most tragic experiences a parent can endure.

Grab your tissues, hold on tight, and go press play, because you’re going to be hearing about this movie a lot more come Oscar season.

5 thoughts on “Pieces of a Woman Broke Me”

  1. I liked this as well, but I felt that Martha got a bit short changed. I wanted to know more about her outside of her grief, but Kirby was wonderful and I really hope she’s Oscar nominated for this.

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