Pieces of a Woman takes you from the pain of childbirth through the searing agony of child loss. As you might imagine, it’s not a pleasant trip. Warning: If you have a lawyer in your house, you may wish to nail down any loose items. The legal process in this film is so bad that he/she may be tempted to throw a chair through the TV screen. Apparently, the budget was so miniscule the director couldn’t hire a first year law student to tell him the difference between the civil and criminal systems as well as give him a crash course on ethics.
Notwithstanding the aforesaid, Pieces of a Woman is full of cryptic symbolism, none of which is clearly understandable. Perhaps intended, and perhaps not, but are we supposed to root for home births? Is the big, bad medical establishment to blame for criminal charges against the midwife? Why must there always be someone to blame? Given the devastating loss of a child, and the predictable depression and marriage failure, Pieces of a Woman becomes Descent Into Hell. Available on Netflix and too long at 128 minutes, both the critics and the public rate this too high. I give the film 3.0 Gavels and it receives a 76% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 6.9/10 IMDb score.
Determined expectant parents, Martha and Sean do everything right in preparation for home birth. Aware that everything might not go as planned, Eva steps in as midwife when a lengthy labor delays Barbara elsewhere. All seems to be going well until, at the last minute, the baby is in distress. The life squad arrives too late. Martha’s mother, Elizabeth, demands that “someone answer for this monstrosity.” The blame game starts and Eva is in the crosshairs.
Vanessa Kirby (Martha) stars, well known for her appearances in Mission: Impossible – Fallout and Hobbs and Shaw. A call to Tom Cruise to explain the film might be helpful. Spoiler: Here is an attempt by HITC to explain the ending. Shia LaBeouf (Sean) appears in a now mandatory David Letterman/George Clooney beard. He was much better in The Peanut Butter Falcon. Ellen Burstyn plays the bitter, pushy mother. It’s nice to see her again.
The time period of Pieces of a Woman is from September 17 to April 3rd. During that time, Massachusetts builds a bridge over the waters in Suffolk County. What does that have to do with the death of a baby? Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to explore more symbolism. As always, should you or any of your symbolism force be . . .
Not impressed, The Wall Street Journal asks “does the rest of the film live up to such an agonizing and yet commanding beginning? Unfortunately it does not, despite the presence of a star who manages to navigate a cluttered narrative with clarity and solemn grace.” Likewise, The Chicago Tribune prints “this is difficult to say, given the trauma out of which it was born, but Pieces of a Woman is well-acted while also being pretty shameless (when it’s not merely contrived) in its storytelling tactics.”
In conclusion, too much art and not enough substance in this one.