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Pieces of a Woman


Stars: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Sarah Snook, Iliza Shlesinger, Molly Parker, Benny Safdie

Director: Kornel Mundruczo

Not so much Call the Midwife as Sue the Midwife. Living with her blue-collar partner Sean (a heavily bearded LaBeouf), Martha (Kirby) is expecting her first child, a daughter, and is determined on a home birth.

With Martha's own midwife busy on an emergency, substitute Anna (Parker) arrives to find her charge practically ready to produce.

After a distressing and intense extended sequence (though it won't faze Midwife fans), the baby is born, but quickly develops breathing problems and - no spoiler here, since this all happens at the start - turns blue and dies before a belatedly-called ambulance can arrive.

As the midwife is charged with negligence, Martha's relationship with Sean quickly deteriorates, and he's soon involved in an affair with her cousin (Snook), also the prosecutor on the case. Martha also finds herself at odds with her mother (a tight-lipped Burstyn) both over the case, and her decision to donate the body to research. It is, however, hard to believe that a stonemason would actually carve the name on the gravestone as 'Ivett' when Martha had chosen Yvette.

Weighed down by talk, the film becomes less interesting as it goes on, although it picks up again in the courtroom scenes at the end, with a final speech brilliantly delivered by Kirby in heart-rending fashion.

David Quinlan

USA 2020. UK Distributor: Netflix. Colour (uncredited).
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 09 Jan 2021