Pieces of a Woman (2020)

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Pieces of a Woman is the debut work in English by a Hungarian director Kornel Mundroc, for which she wrote the screenplay Kata Weber. It is a film adaptation of their play performed by a theater from Warsaw, and the film debuted at the Venice Film Festival, where Vanessa Kirby won the lead actress award. The distribution on Netflix started on Orthodox Christmas, and Martin Scorsese was signed as one of the executive producers.

The plot of the film follows Martha (Kirby) and SeanŠaja la Baf) who are expecting their first child. They decide to give birth at home, the doctor who was supposed to help them is busy, so another woman comes instead. However, after the birth, their lives change for the worse – Marty is followed by a drastically changed relationship with Sean, a conflict with his dominant mother (Elen Burstin), but also dealing with an embarrassed midwife…

The first half hour of the film is the best I’ve seen from the previous year. In those thirty minutes, we get so much about the central characters and their relationship, as well as the amount of sadness that defines the rest of the story. The director shot a scene that looks as if it consists of one uninterrupted sequence, performed perfectly naturally and convincingly. Describing what is happening in it is not as important as its effect on everyone who looks at it, rarely anyone will remain indifferent.

Everything we see is obvious and expected, but the most important thing for such an intense impression is that the director does not allow us to relax for a second or escape from the scene, we are simply sucked into it, whether we like it or not. We are close to Martin’s face when painful grimaces overwhelm us, we follow Sean’s upcoming panic and we simply have the feeling that something is wrong or that it will not be right. The inexperience of my parents and their coping with something new, as well as the experience in the case of the midwife, seemed to alternate my fear and relief.

This intense segment interrupts the frame with the title of the film and after that it can be said that we are watching a completely different film. In the second part, at certain intervals, we follow the events related to the characters who are trying to avoid the truth about what happened. It is clear that the author is not trying to match the intensity of the first part because the rest of the story speaks of a different mood, but I have the impression that the authors were unsure of what exactly to tell after such an effective prologue.

I was disappointed that a film that starts with such specificity about its characters and such efficiency in creating a tense atmosphere so quickly loses track of its own purpose. In theory, there is no easy way to deal with this much sadness, so Martha opts for anger and avoiding a painful topic because the alternative is too hard to bear. She becomes cold to everyone, Sean becomes more and more aggressive, while her mother becomes an additional trigger of discord and problems with her attitude that Sean is not good enough for her daughter.

Much of the film fills a typical depiction of sadness filled with routines that now have a different context. The scenes follow without a real point and that soon becomes frustrating, and that frustration culminates with scenes in court that seem pretty cliché to me. From the series The Crown I knew that Vanessa Kirby was a great actress and here she presents a touching portrait of a sad woman, while the great performance of Shaye la Buff, an actor with huge potential, was overshadowed by a new problematic episode from her private life.

Pieces of a Woman it has a fantastic half-hour prologue and impressive acting performances, but as the story progresses, it becomes more and more a dull depiction of an infinitely complex topic that deserves much more authorial attention and reflection.

my final grade: 7/10

Source: The Filmske Recenzije by filmskerecenzije.com.

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