Pieces of a Woman

If you’re looking for a harrowing emotional experience look no further than this Netflix drama.

The film stars Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf as a couple dealing with a deeply traumatic incident that shakes them and their family to their core.

Im being somewhat cagey in my description because I experienced this film without knowing anything. I had it was good and saw the Golden Globes it was nominated for, so I put it on. I was totally taken by this movie. It’s a gripping story told in a unique way.

Vanessa Kirby is really astounding here. The emotional places she’s goes with this character are so authentic it never feels like a performance. She inhabits this woman’s pain, her grief, and her hope.

The centerpiece of the film is its opening sequence. It’s a twenty minute single take style shot. It’s designed to look like one unbroken take. As it began I thought about how often this trick is used and how the one take is a trend like shaky cam was years ago that must be on its way out. But this one was different. This one told a story. This one encapsulated the entirety of the characters experience and absolutely broke my heart. By the end I was extended one takes can stick around forever as long as they are done this well.

Ellen Burstyn has a fantastic part as Vanessa Kirby’s mother. she’s a controlling woman who is beginning to forget things. She’s slowly losing control and watching Burstyn navigate this character is truly fascinating to watch. She’s incredibly authentic in the small moments like finding her cell phone in the salad bowl, but she’s also fierce when she pulls it together to challenge her daughters choices in a stunning speech. She’s excellent here.

The movie has a kind of fragmented structure. It keeps jumping forward in time. It created a real disconnect for me. I struggled to get back in touch with where the characters were. I think this was the intention. It made me feel the way this fragmented family must feel. They are struggling to keep up with each other and recreate the bonds that they shared. This might be too much for some people. They might just feel a disconnect and shut the movie off. I’d advise against that. The movie comes together really well.

For me the squeaky wheel is Shia LaBeouf. He seems to be striving so hard for authenticity whereas the rest of the cast simply is authentic. His performance is effortful. He’s trying hard to give the impression of not trying at all. It’s hard to describe, but watching him opposite Burstyn and Kirby he looks like he’s trying way too hard.

The more is a gut punch. It deals with loss, grief, and despair. It’s not a fun Sunday afternoon movie. It’s not a date night or a dinner and a movie kind of experience. It is however a really good movie that’s worth watching if you have the heart for it.

I’d definitely recommend it. It’s for sure my cup of tea. A-

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