Vanessa Kirby takes another big step towards the A-list in this powerful drama that certainly doesn’t make for an easy watch. Pieces of Woman tells the story of a young couple (Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf) struggling in aftermath of the death of their baby during childbirth and the strain that such cataclysmic grief puts on their relationship.
The much lauded child birth scene (a harrowing opening thirty minutes) is undoubtedly some of the finest cinema you’ll see all year, Kirby’s performance here is nothing short of astounding and the decision to shoot in a single take really adds impact to the scene, it’s unapologetically difficult viewing (and that’s coming from a male viewpoint) so brace yourselves, it’s a tough watch but it’s certainly effective.
It’s not just Kirby just that shines here though, the supporting cast is also on superb form, Shia LaBeouf’s turn as the troubled everyman is a role he could arguably do in his sleep but that doesn’t detract from his performance at all. Ellen Burstyn is impressive as ever as a powerful matriarch figure and shines in every scene she’s in, her scenes shared with Kirby are some of the strongest outside of the opening.
It’s a disappointment then that (outside of the acting) what follows the opening just isn’t quite as good. Pieces of Woman regularly falls into the trap of heavy handed symbolism, Shia LaBeouf’s character is literally building a bridge and do we really need to be hit over the head with an apple sprouting from seeds in a film about dealing with grief. Symbolism is all well and good but there needs to be a level of subtly to it to make it effective and that is sorely lacking here.
The ‘For Your Consideration’ moments also roll in thick and fast in the second half of the film, with the ‘big courtroom speech’ feeling particularly egregious, it’s a rote cliché that doesn’t fit with the more measured tone that the director seems to be aiming for and certainly feels at odds with the efforts that went into making the opening feel as authentic as possible.
All that being said Pieces of a Woman is far from a bad film, it’s beautifully shot, the characters are well drawn and the acting talent on offer should certainly keep you watching until the end. It’s just a shame it never quite lives up to its incredible opening scene as it had the potential to be one of the year’s very best films.
Author: Paul, Bath store