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With: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Jimmie Fails, Ellen Burstyn
Written by: Kata Wéber
Directed by: Kornél Mundruczó
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content, graphic nudity and brief drug use
Running Time: 126
Date: 01/15/2021

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Loss Cause

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kornél Mundruczó's drab, raw Pieces of a Woman opens with that 23-minute long tracking shot you've heard about, depicting Martha (Vanessa Kirby) as she goes into painful labor. Her husband Sean (Shia LaBeouf) does what he can, and an unexpected substitute for their midwife, Eva (Molly Parker), shows up. It goes without saying that the baby doesn't make it. What follows is Martha trying to deal with the tragedy, and her family pressuring her to sue Eva. There are other long, virtuoso takes in the movie, but nothing ever equals the power or immediacy of that opening shot. LaBeouf is another problem; he bullies and steamrolls his way through — including a brief sexual fling with a cousin of Martha's lawyer cousin Suzanne (Sarah Snook) — dominating his scenes rather than sharing. (His best moment comes when he talks about harmony in bridges, a neat metaphor for the story.) When Martha's mother Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn) offers him money to go away, it's something of a relief when he actually takes it. It's hard to believe that this couple ever would have married in the first place. But Kirby is magnificent in a tough, stark role, and when Martha finally wrests some tiny bit of control from her life in the final moments, it's a huge triumph.

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