Pieces Of A Woman is a kind of film that creates its own niche, without falling into the cliches that often become the most convenient solution while addressing a familiar problem. If you look at the film in fragments you will realize that each block could have been easily stereotyped and indeed there were some strong precedents to refer to when it came to the basic idea that each scene was catering to. Pieces Of A Woman (film) walks on a narrow bridge, over a tempting water body. One wrong step and the depth and the vastness of the water body would have gladly engulfed the notion. But it doesn’t stumble and carves out its own path.
Every scene seems to resonate with a sort of rhythm. You know that it is choreographed and that each step that the performer or the cinematographer takes is measured but it looks so organic that you can’t help but have a sense of satisfaction and reverence. The director, Kornél Mundruczó, and the screenplay writer, Kata Weber come from a theater background, and maybe because of this reason they subconsciously have imparted a certain tempo to the performers in specific, which in turn contributes to the flux of each scene. Pieces Of A Woman (film) is almost like synchronized sounds coming from an orchestra.
The narrative in the present case could not be said to be just circumscribing itself to the trauma of a pregnancy gone wrong, or an abusive relationship, or merely analyzing a mother-daughter relationship. It looks into the emotional arc of a character in its entirety. It follows the journey of Vanessa Kirby as Martha Weiss. She seems like a woman who is capable of making her choices and living with them. It seems that she has often had rather unpopular opinions that have not gone well with the ideologies of her mother, Elizabeth Weiss (Ellen Burstyn).
She lives with Sean Carson (Shia LaBeouf), her partner, who as compared to her family is financially weaker and works as a construction worker. Martha’s mother has constant doubt about Sean’s capability to run and make a contribution to the family. She feels that it’s her daughter who bears the heavy burden in the relationship, emotionally as well as financially. In one of the scenes, Elizabeth says that she does not like Sean and not because he is poor. Sean thinks that he is not intellectual or sophisticated enough for the likings of Elizebeth.
After the loss of her daughter, the couple severed a blow that affected them mentally and emotionally. It rifts them apart. They are trying to collect their broken fragments. But no matter how much they try it all goes in vain.
They are contrasting traits and it is hard to tell what made them come together. But after a point of time, it becomes evident that both of them want to start over as they don’t have anything left in them to give in to the current relationship. Meanwhile, Elizabeth urges Martha to press for criminal charges against the midwife who was present at the time of delivery. Elizebeth feels that somebody has to be held accountable for the loss.
An Unrivaled Choreography
For the first 20 mins of the film, we see Martha starting to have labor pain until it aggravates to an unbearable level and she finally delivers. That 22 minutes to be precise could have been a film in itself. It’s like a rhythmic and poetic jaunt where you touch the peaks and then go down in a trough, only to rise again. The whole ordeal has been written and performed in a very detailed manner. Especially Vanessa Kirby makes you feel exactly what a woman goes through even if you haven’t been privy to it in your personal life. It is beautiful to see how each movement is blocked, performed, and captured. This 22-minute ride has no jerks whatsoever. The concoction of emotions displayed not only thrills you in a way but leaves you anticipating what’s about to come.
The Rough and Refined
Shia LaBeouf’s character has a certain roughness about himself, not implying that he is reckless or imprudent in any manner. He loves Martha but the loss seemed to expose his rough edges. He forces himself on Martha and when she finally consents or one might say, is coerced into consenting, he walks away in a fit of temper as if she was a minute too late in giving her assent. He throws a physioball at her once and she just deflates the ball with her cigarette, not replicating his abuse. The scenes are performed with such conviction from Shia LaBeouf as if he owns the core of the character, Sean Carson.
Vanessa Kirby has shown the range she has as a performer. There was a myriad of emotions and layers which needed to be understood. She executes them, understanding the subtle boundaries laid in front of her.
The battle of perspective
Elizabeth has had her share of troubles. She didn’t have an opulent childhood, which she was able to give her two daughters. She had to fight for every piece of bread. So she thinks that she has a better understanding of dealing with adversity. She feels that her daughter is shying away from facing her problems, scared that she would have to relive the trauma. But Martha has her own perspectives. She is a wise woman. She understands what is right and wrong for her. She is steadfast in her decisions and is never affected by public opinion. She is like her mother in many ways but still very unique and true to her conscience. Even in such a traumatic state of mind, she stands for what she feels is right and that eventually makes all the difference.
Streaming on Netflix, Pieces Of A Woman (film) will make sure that you feel a tad bit more empowered (irrespective of your gender) and a sense of fulfillment.
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