As Netflix continues on its quest for Oscar glory, the streaming platform has been known to offer some serious contenders for Best Picture. Every month, the new additions feature a plethora of entertainment choices, ranging from scintillating documentaries that come to define pop culture, to dramatic films that you can only hope are watched on the big screen. This year, all attention was cast on Kornél Mundruczó’s film, Pieces of A Woman, starring Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf.
That the film drew critical attention was unsurprising. For anyone that’s watched Pieces of A Woman, you’ll know just how strong the acting is. But a large part of why the film seems to have struck a nerve in public consciousness and conversation, is for its portrayal of loss – namely, that of losing a child through birth. Despite being a rather devastating commonality, going through childbirth to lose a baby is rarely given the attention it deserves, leaving those who have gone through it to suffer largely alone.
The film focuses on a young couple from Boston who lose their baby when a home birth goes awry. It’s intimate, traumatic, and deeply emotional. But though the tragedy certainly centres around the childbirth, the movie is far more than a story of birth alone. Rather, it chronicles the immediate emotional aftermath of a loss that comes to be life-defining.
When 10 to 20 per cent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, this film shines a spotlight on something so often ignored, or pushed to the peripheries. Rarely are miscarriages talked about with such raw vulnerability and honesty, and not surprisingly they’ve been largely left off our screens in favour of the romantic vision of birth and pregnancy. But though we may see vignettes of miscarriage on our social media feeds from time to time, or through the media via celebrity accounts like that of Chrissy Teigen or Meghan Markle, the fact Pieces of a Woman turns such an experience into a two-hour film is deeply significant. If those who have lived such trauma are to be made to felt less alone in their grief, they need to see their stories represented on screen.
The film is by no means an easy watch. Their pain is real and felt intensely. But the film provides an incredible insight into what it means to go through such a loss and how it comes to colour your life, becoming something you live with daily. Though its worth mentioning that the film’s star in LaBeouf, who plays male protagonist Sean, has recently been accused of sexual battery by his former girlfriend, musician FKA Twigs, Netflix has pulled LaBeouf from the film’s publicity. It would be a detriment to let to the issues facing LaBeouf to overshadow the film, particularly when all credit belongs to Kirby who is profoundly honest in her portrayal of Martha.
Pieces of A Woman is available to stream now on Netflix Australia.
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