Pieces of a Woman

Pieces of a Woman ★★½

"How can I give this pain to someone else?"

Swings from grounded realism to melodrama within a single scene. It's ironic that "pieces" is in the title, as very little of this ultimately comes together to be anything larger than its individual parts. The much-talked about first act is the best part by a mile, with an immediate dip in sophistication following after it. Never again does a scene feel as carefully, intricately crafted and honest. Kirby and Burstyn are very strong here, but truthfully, I think they're best in the quiet moments. The monologues feel very obviously written, despite their committed deliveries. The locked-off close-ups in these moments make them feel exceptionally staged and out of rhythm of the rest of the film. Certainly some amazing pieces in here, but it requires a good deal of patience to stick with it without ever amounting to much.

Let me be transparent: I had a very difficult time watching LaBeouf's scenes. I think my critiques of his character's arc, as well as his own too-familiar performance, are genuine, however I cannot separate those opinions from my own discomfort with him as a person. It was very upsetting to watch him raise his voice and lash out at Kirby's character with the recent statements so fresh in my mind. Some of you may know all the same things to be true and still thoroughly enjoy the film, but for me, it completely put me off. I couldn't connect with his character because I never stopped seeing him as LaBeouf the actor. Perhaps I'd have felt differently about his half of the film were it not for my outside knowledge, but truthfully, I just can't make that separation.

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