Pieces of a Woman: Netflix Film Review

Pieces of a Woman

I’ve always thought Vanessa Kirby is a terrific actress and it looks like she may get the awards to prove it this season thanks to her devastating performance in Pieces of a Woman.

The film follows Martha (Kirby) as she navigates the months following a home birth that goes drastically and tragically wrong, culminating in her facing off against her midwife Eva (Molly Parker) in court, with her being accused of criminal negligence. The fallout of the tragedy affects her marriage to husband Sean (Shia LaBeouf) and her relationship with her family, led by matriarch Elizabeth Weiss (Ellen Burstyn).

Kirby won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year for her performance and it’s easy to see why. This is a career-defining performance and she has never been better. I’ll be amazed if she doesn’t receive nominations for this during awards season. In the much talked about birth scene, which was shot in one 22-minute take, I was floored by her. It’s such a raw, gut-wrenching watch, and I (someone who hasn’t given birth FYI) was convinced by it; it felt so real and authentic and like I was there besides her, but that’s down to the camera work too. Kirby spends the rest of the movie as this hollowed-out shell of a person who is a shadow of her former self, which she does very well, and then she delivers an emotional punch right at the end.

LaBeouf – who is currently in the headlines for a very different reason and has been subsequently removed from marketing materials and FYC campaigns – provides strong support as the fed-up husband who doesn’t know what to do to help their marriage return to what it was. His character makes some questionable choices so you have little sympathy for him though. Burstyn was the other standout performer as the caring mother who constantly rubs her daughter up the wrong way, despite her good intentions. I also cared a lot for Parker as the midwife; her performance in the birth scene tied it all together and my heart was with her more than Martha.

The birth scene takes place near the start of the movie and it grips you and doesn’t let you go for 22 minutes, but because that’s so well done, what comes after feels rather anti-climactic. It’s very grey, slow, and sombre, which obviously reflects the dark time in Martha’s life, but I just expected more from it. It ramps up once the trial begins and comes to a strong conclusion but it loses its momentum in the middle.

This isn’t an easy feel-good watch, as you might have guessed, but it tells a very poignant story and features terrific performances across the board so it’s still worth checking out.

In selected cinemas from Wednesday 30th December and on Netflix from 7th January

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Honey Boy: Film Review

You think you know Shia LaBeouf – given that he’s been in the spotlight since he was a child and has been in the headlines for his run-ins with the police in recent years – but when you watch his biographical film Honey Boy you’ll realise you had no idea.

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Top Films for December

It’s finally here. We are in the last month of 2019! And we’re set to go out with a bang, judging by the films that are coming up. Here’s a rundown of the releases I’m most excited for this month:

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The Peanut Butter Falcon: Film Review

Shia LaBeouf has had a few rough years during which he became more known for his personal problems and run-ins with the law. But now he’s making his comeback. The Peanut Butter Falcon – along with his biopic Honey Boy – both put him firmly back on the map. It is one of the sweetest films I’ve seen in a long time.

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Honey Boy: LFF Film Review

You think you know Shia LaBeouf – given that he’s been in the spotlight since he was a child and has been in the headlines for his run-ins with the police in recent years – but when you watch his biographical film Honey Boy you’ll realise you had no idea.

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Man Down: Film Review

Man Down has been pretty savaged by critics but I’m baffled because I actually liked it. Like, it’s not amazing but it’s certainly not as bad as reviews lead me to believe.

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My top ten London Film Festival recommendations

I saw a bucketload of films at this year’s London Film Festival. Seeing films in this fashion is very tiring but it also helps you sort out the good from the bad, the outstanding to the mediocre very easily so here are the top ten films that stood out at LFF this year (click on the titles to read the full review):

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American Honey: LFF Film Review

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American Honey has been receiving critical acclaim since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival so obviously I was excited to watch it and I can now say I fully understand the hype.

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Top Films for October

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It’s that time of the month – movie preview time! This October isn’t a massive month for releases to be honest, but that certainly makes my job of picking my recommendations much easier. Here we go:

American Honey

This is just a wonderful character study starring newcomer Sasha Lane, who is definitely one to watch. We follow her as she joins a ‘mag crew’ who travel the country selling magazines, she gets involved in their heavy drugs and drink lifestyle and has a sort-of relationship with Shia LaBeouf, who gives his strongest performance in years. It’s a tad too long but seriously life-affirming. Review on its way. Released: 14th October

War on Everyone 

Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgard star in this brilliantly un-PC comedy about two crooked cops, who basically use their badges to steal drugs, money, etc and get away with it. The dialogue is hilarious; it is sharp, witty, and so, so wrong. Theo James also stars as their main villain. Released: Friday 7th October

 

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The Girl on the Train 

Okay, so this hasn’t received the stellar reviews we had all been expecting but I would still recommend you check it out. It is still good (just not amazing) – it is gripping, shocking and features an impressive performance from Emily Blunt, who plays an alcoholic who becomes involved in a missing person’s investigation. It also stars Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, with brilliant small appearances from Laura Prepon and Lisa Kudrow. Released today – you can read my review here.

Trolls

I do love a good children’s animation and I’m hoping this new musical featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick is just the ticket. They play Branch and Poppy, who go on an adventure to save their town from the troll-eating bergens. I want this to be so much fun. Released: 21st October

 

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Doctor Strange 

Marvel is back WOOHOO! This time we are meeting Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a top surgeon who is put out of a job following a car accident. He encounters the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who become his mentor in the mystic arts. It looks like an Inception-style superhero movie from the trailer and I’m very intrigued, though definitely not as excited as other MCU offerings. Released: 28th October

Keeping Up with the Joneses

The trailer for this action comedy really made me laugh so I’m hoping the rest of the movie will do the same. Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis star as the Gaffneys, a regular married couple, who end up involved in an espionage mission after discovering their neighbours The Joneses (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) are secret agents. This better be hilarious! Released: 28th October

Fury: Film Review

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War movies are not usually my thing – and it is rare for me to find one that I actually enjoy. This film is great. It is no Saving Private Ryan nor does it reinvent the genre but it offers a fresh perspective and was superbly cast.

Brad Pitt is ‘Wardaddy”, a sergeant who leads a five-man tank team sweeping through German towns during the tail end of World War II in 1945. The film opens the crew heading back to camp as one of their men has died and they need a replacement. They are given Norman (Logan Lerman), who is young, naive and afraid. The roughened team – consisting of ‘Bible’ (Shia LaBeouf), ‘Gordo’ (Michael Pena) and ‘Coon Ass’ (Jon Bernthal) – give him a tough time to harden him to the brutal reality of war.

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