The eagerly anticipated teaser trailer gives a glimpse into Vanessa Kirby’s award-winning performance, which saw her scoop the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival 2020.
The first English-language feature from Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó, Pieces of a Woman explores the complexities and trials of married life between Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Sean Carson (Shia LaBeouf) after the loss of their newborn child. Mundruczó’s experimental and fragmented style provides a vivid portrayal of the fracturing of a relationship under the immense strain of shared trauma.
At just under a minute and a half, the first official clip gives us a naturalistic insight into the life of a young couple posed on the brink of what should be one of the happiest occasions of their lives — starting a family together. They joke about their new people carrier with its heated seats and airbags (“I think you’re going to look really good in this,” Martha teases) and discuss what matters to them in their life together. In the knowledge of what’s to come, it’s hard to watch the teaser without feeling a twinge of sadness when Sean, a gruff construction worker who doesn’t come across as the sentimental type, pulls out a set of ultrasound scans that he’s had framed and mounted for Martha.
Divided into eight dated chapters, one for each month after the disastrous homebirth that ends with the baby’s death, Pieces of a Woman looks poised to be a powerful study of a family torn apart by an all-consuming loss. It is also an agonised portrait of generational grief, with Sean and Martha’s bereavement complicated further by the imposing figure of Martha’s overbearing mother (played by Burstyn), who tells her daughter: “Martha, if you’d done it my way, you’d be holding your baby in your arms right now.”
The difficult subject matter of the film looks like it’s in safe hands with a star-studded cast that sees the likes of Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, The Age of Adaline), Sarah Snook (Succession, Steve Jobs) and Molly Parker (Lost in Space) join Kirby and LaBoeuf on the screen.
Both Kirby and Burstyn received critical acclaim and Academy Award buzz for their performances upon the film’s premiere at the 77th Venice Film Festival. Known for her role as young Princess Margaret in the historical drama The Crown, Kirby confirmed her status as Hollywood royalty when her portrayal of the grieving Martha earned her the Best Actress Volpi Cup. In her acceptance speech, she admitted feeling the pressure of being true to the suffering of the women she talked to before the shoot, and she named and thanked them. With evident emotion and tears in her eyes, she dedicated the prize to all those parents “who have lost children… sometimes before even life began.”
The reviews for Pieces of a Woman have been largely positive, and Academy Awards speculations have already started to circulate. Although it has been confirmed that Netflix has successfully swept up the worldwide distribution rights to the film in what is understood to be a $10m deal, a release date is yet to be announced.
Words by Rachel Kevern
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