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Pieces of a Woman

Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Sean (Shia LaBeouf) are expecting their first child, and they have decided to have the delivery at home. The final moments turn tragic, and the film is about how Martha, Sean, and her mother domineering mother Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn) deal with the tragedy. The first quarter of the film is pretty amazing, as the camera captures the entirety of the birth process, and Vanessa Kirby is brilliant. Unfortunately, the rest of the film quickly loses focus. It quickly becomes unclear who is the focus. At first, you think that the focus is on Martha and Sean, but then it shifts to primarily Martha, putting Sean’s place in the film in question. There are also a lot of cliches and symbolism that make the film feel heavy-handed, and this is, unfortunately, how the film ended. The film is set in Boston, but I wondered why it doesn’t feel like Boston; I did some quick research afterward and found out it was actually filmed in Montreal. This is not a huge deal, but if you have spent a lot of time in Boston, as I have, there is a nagging feeling that something doesn’t feel right. There is no question that the performance by Vanessa Kirby is top-notch, and I also actually really liked those by LaBeouf and Burstyn as well. I give it a thumbs up. From an acting perspective, it is wonderful; as a narrative, it falls considerably short and can’t quite be rescued by the talented acting. (2020; 3 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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