Pieces of a Woman
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Pieces of a Woman

Pieces of a Woman paradoxical film like few others, ‘Pieces of a Woman’, the new film by the Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó Pieces of a Woman (author of ‘Jupiter’s Moon’ and ‘White God’), is a true filmic battlefield. Two almost antithetical cinematographic models confront each other in his images. On the one hand, we are dealing with the work of a Mannerist filmmaker who handles his characters as if they were the puppets of a scene game with sadistic overtones: his vision of the world appears vampirized by suffering and cruelty, forces that the director transfers to his strained relationship with the viewer. However, in parallel to his attacking interpretation of the cinema and to the nihilistic vision of his life, Mundruczó lets flourish, in the most resplendent corners of his new film, a certain will to understand the reasons of his characters. It is not simply a faith in the possibility of redemption, despite the fact that ‘Pieces of a Woman’, which has Martin Scorsese among its executive producers, is based on a Christian imaginary that makes the Stations of the Cross his reason for being. No, I am referring here to the director’s will to attend to the arguments that allow us to understand the apparently mean behavior of the characters. One might wonder if this impulse of humanistic overtones is born from the look of the filmmaker or from the pen of the screenwriter and also playwright Kata Wéber, but, be that as it may, that halo of light makes ‘Pieces of a Woman’ a film that, despite to its excesses, it deserves to be watched with interest.

Posed as the autumnal-winter chronicle of the difficult odyssey of a couple trying to cope with a tragic event (the less the viewer knows, the more the film will enjoy), ‘Pieces of a Woman’ studies its characters (played by Shia LaBeouf and Vanessa Kirby, seen in ‘The Queen’ and ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout’) from a frigid distance, with the camera turned into a sharp scalpel that dissects time and space in diaphanous wide shots or in imposing sequence shots in which contempt and affection are choreographed with extreme precision. This is the work of an esthete who seems to adore the legacy of Stanley Kubrick, in particular that of “Eyes Wide Shut”, and of the playwright August Strindberg, father of the “theater of cruelty.” In fact, the most powerful sequence in the film, in which a fantastic Kirby and an even more dazzling Ellen Burstyn battle through raw-truth-monologues, brings to mind that bile feast that was ‘August’, the film by John Wells based on the play by Tracy Letts, another Strindberg apprentice. In the terrifying tête à tête between Kirby and Burstyn (who would not be surprised to see an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress), the film reaches its explosive-reflective peak: the verbal stabs shock the characters and sever their consciences, but also us help to understand the depth of the bond between mother and daughter.

Duration: 126 min


IMDb: 5.4