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Love, Loss and Forgiveness: A TIFF Review of ‘Pieces of a Woman’

September 13, 2020Ben MK

The loss of a child is something no parent should ever have to endure. But how does one go about picking up the pieces in the wake of such a tragedy? This is the driving theme behind Kornél Mundruczó's Pieces of a Woman, which sees Shia LaBeouf and Vanessa Kirby as a couple struggling with how to move on after the death of their newborn baby.

Unfolding over the course of several months, the story follows blue-collar construction worker Sean (LaBeouf) and his business executive partner Martha (Kirby) as they not only navigate the emotionally turbulent aftermath of their infant daughter's passing, but also the media firestorm surrounding the civil lawsuit against their midwife, Eva (Molly Parker). At the same time, however, they must also deal with how the tragedy has affected their own relationship, as well as their relationship with Martha's opinionated mother, Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn), whose involvement only adds fuel to the flames threatening to reduce the life that they've built together to ashes.

The result is heartbreaking to watch, but LaBeouf and Kirby excel at imbuing their characters with a pathos that won't soon be forgotten. The film's real unsung hero, however, is Burstyn, whose portrayal of a woman quietly suffering through her own personal hell proves to be one of the Pieces of a Woman's strongest elements.

Pieces of a Woman screens under the Gala Presentations programme at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 6 min.

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