Benjamin Loeb / Netflix
“Martha’s fine, she’s always fine,” remarks Sean (Shia LaBeouf) to his colleague on the construction site in the opening scene of Pieces of a Woman. But over the course of the next two hours of Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s heart-wrenching film, we learn that no one is fine, particularly Martha.
As the film begins, we find ourselves in Sean and Martha’s (Vanessa Kirby) warmly lit apartment, a safe haven from the cold grey streets of Boston, where the film is set. The young couple has carefully planned a home birth which Mundruczó delivers in a single 24-minute take. It’s no spoiler to say things don’t go to plan.
This is a film about grief, the loss of a newborn child; an insurmountably painful experience that is rarely spoken about openly. The film was written by Kata Wéber, Mundruczó’s partner, and it is based around their own experience with neonatal death. “It’s very important for me that this story could somehow break the silence around a certain taboo,” Wéber told The Independent.