Pieces of a Woman is the type of cinema that may benefit from a streaming release as moments come when you need to pause and walk away for a moment.

Director(s) Kornel Mundruczo
Screenplay By Kata Weber
Date Released (Netflix) 1/7/2021
Genre(s) Drama, Family
Duration 2 Hours 6 Minutes
Rating R
Noted Cast
Martha Vanessa Kirby
Sean Shia LaBeouf
Eva Molly Parker
Elizabeth Ellen Burstyn

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Film Summary

Pieces of a Woman covers roughly 7 months of the life of a woman named Martha. She was to be a first-time mom, with her partner Sean, but then things went wrong during the home birth, which Eva, the midwife, ended up standing trial for. During the process, Martha is doing everything but what her mother, Elizabeth, wants, and increasingly becomes distant from her partner Sean. For with both wanting her to act a specific way, it keeps her from healing and dealing with the situation as she wants, and without the support she needs.

Leaving you to wonder, between a court case that calls for her testimony, and two relationships that are more liabilities than assets, how will Martha deal with that, and having an angel baby?

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Nudity, smoking, drug use, sex, and good old fashion cursing.
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: For us, it was 0, but that’s because we’ve never lost a child. But, the way Kirby handles it does wear you down to the point of exhaustion. So if you are a parent, or suffered the loss of a child, you will probably be drenched in tears.

Cast & Characters

Martha (Vanessa Kirby)

Martha was due to have a child on September 17th with her partner Sean, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the woman with the corner office found herself dealing with all the effects of having a child without taking one home and a family who were cratering into themselves to find blame.

Sean (Shia LaBeouf)

Sean (Shia LaBeouf) on the phone
Sean (Shia LaBeouf)

A construction worker who Elizabeth never liked, who was sober for years before losing his daughter. However, upon her death, he goes down a dark spiral.

Eva (Molly Parker)

Eva was not Martha’s original mid-wife, that was a woman named Barbara. But she stepped in and due to complications, found herself in a legal case that not only threatened her job but her freedom.

Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn)

Matha’s mother who dislikes Sean strongly and wants Martha to do more in a multitude of ways with her life. Thus leaving Martha feeling that nothing she does is ever enough for her mom.



It Really Gets Overwhelming

Vanessa Kirby’s performance is tiresome in the best way. If you are fully immersed in the film, from the birthing scenes to her lactating with no baby to feed, to her mother, sister, even partner making so much of the death of Yvette about them, it’s exhausting. From every which way you can imagine, the film hits you. Be it losing a child, no support, or this need to play the blame game when part of you just wants to move on – it’s a lot.

Martha (Vanessa Kirby) before her water broke
Martha (Vanessa Kirby)

And in many ways, you could say all that Kirby goes through not only dominates the film but eclipses her co-stars and the supporting actors.

On The Fence

While Ellen Burstyn’s Performance Was Good, What Martha Was Going Through Eclipsed Their Mother/Daughter Issues

The mother who hated the person their daughter chose, is starting to have Alzheimer’s or dementia and was born during the holocaust. Elizabeth is a formidable character and as you see her push for justice, speaking out, you can see it is because she needs to vicariously live through her daughter. Heck, not just Elizabeth, but multiple generations of their family. For as much as Elizabeth’s mother fought to survive, and Elizabeth as well, the need for continued victories was strong.

Yet, you can almost see, in Martha not playing strong, but being weak, it reminded Elizabeth of her own frailty. That there will come a point when speaking up and fighting is a privilege. So to watch Martha stand by and let things happen to her was an insult of epic proportions.

Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn) trying to pay off Sean
Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn)

But, because Kirby, even in just enduring, makes Elizabeth more so a talking head than someone she engages, Burstyn doesn’t get the scene partner she needs to really shine.

Sean & The Issues He Was Going Through

The same goes for Sean. Like Martha, he suffered a major loss and partly finds himself in the crosshairs of blame, but wanting to find means of escaping it. Not just through Eva, but drugs, alcohol, and whichever way he can. Yet, the problem once again is, without Martha actively going back and forth with him, you see a character who just sputters out.

This is a bit of a shame since, like Burstyn, LaBeouf really brings all of themselves to the role. It’s just, with the best he has to play off being Burstyn, whose character doesn’t want to share moments with Sean, but rather figure a way to get him out of her family’s life, he has no one to really bounce off of. Leaving Sean eventually just fading out.


Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Pieces of a Woman is one of the rare films we have watched which somehow has multiple masterful performances, but because the lead’s story isn’t made to enhance its supporting characters, they are the only ones who benefit from the script. Which ultimately leaves the others screaming at the wind, fighting the fading presence of the lead, and just fading out as time goes on. Yet, despite not utilizing its two strong supporting characters, Pieces of a Woman remains worth seeing. For truly, Kirby, while the way things are handled makes her performance all-consuming, as much as you may look over to LaBeouf or Burstyn at times, she never let’s go and keeps you engaged for nearly the entire two hours.

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

On The Radar


  • Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.
  • Ending Spoilers: Trying to remember how a film ended, or want a different take on the ending, then check out the "ending spoilers" category. 

Pieces Of A Woman Ending (Spoilers)

Elizabeth ends up getting her wish and is able to pay Sean, who ends up cheating on Martha, to get out of her family and their lives. Which, with him not being married to Martha, and succumbing to his addictions, leads to a quick exit. One that Martha doesn’t make a big deal out of for there just came a point where Sean seemed less on her team, and in their partnership, and was in support of her mother.

Eva (Molly Parker) getting worried
Eva (Molly Parker)

Someone who Martha has a strained relationship with throughout the movie but as Elizabeth’s memory deteriorates, she becomes more vulnerable and palatable. Thus allowing Martha to be kinder and more understanding of her mother rather than avoid her. Though, perhaps what really brings Martha peace after Sean leaves and with her mother losing her edge, is admitting Eva was just doing her job and was put into an impossible position. That she tried to save Yvette but with Sean and Martha committed to the home birth, she did all she could but it just didn’t end up being enough.

And with releasing Eva, and the grip Yvette’s death had on her, years down the line, Martha finds herself having a daughter named Lucianna. It isn’t said with who or under what circumstances, but she gets her second chance at motherhood and seems quite happy.

Does Pieces of a Woman Have Sequel Potential?

Not really. I will admit, considering we follow Martha for 7 months then potentially jump 7 years and she has a child, there are questions left unanswered about that gap. Never mind what happened to Sean and taking note Martha’s sister is a character in the movie, you do have to wonder, besides playing the bridge between Martha and Elizabeth, what else does she do? Who is she without those two involved?


It Really Gets Overwhelming - 92%
While Ellen Burstyn's Peformance Was Good, What Martha Was Going Through Eclipsed Their Mother/Daughter Issues - 79%
Sean & The Issues He Was Going Through - 78%


despite not utilizing its two strong supporting characters, Pieces of a Woman remains worth seeing. For truly, Kirby, while the way things are handled makes her performance all-consuming, as much as you may look over to LaBeouf or Burstyn at times, she never lets go and keeps you engaged for nearly the entire two hours.

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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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