There’s a reason England’s Vanessa Kirby is creating Oscar buzz with her kaleidoscopic portrayal of a very troubled heroine in Friday’s Netflix drama “Pieces of a Woman.”
Kirby first broke through with an Emmy-nominated performance playing troubled, controversial, self-destructive Princess Margaret in the first two seasons of “The Crown.”
Now as pregnant Martha, Kirby creates one of the most disturbing, dynamic, realistic birthing scenes imaginable. “Pieces” presents the agony, ecstasy and catastrophe of a home delivery with a midwife (Canadian veteran Molly Parker) in one nearly 30-minute take.
That meant for every one of the six takes that were filmed, Kirby, 32, went nonstop from beginning to tumultuous end.
Afterward, as Martha tries to cope with the ensuing tragedy, she in a very real way shuts down, rejecting sympathy, advice or self-regard.
“A lot of women go through an experience like this or have done so in all our close networks. And yet,” she said, “I wouldn’t necessarily have known that, because it’s something that just isn’t spoken about enough.”
It was a discovery she made doing extensive research with women’s groups and friends of friends. The more she learned, the more, she said, “I began to feel really proud of the fact that we were attempting to make something that got that very female experience.
“And that we recognize there shouldn’t be silence or there shouldn’t be shame around this subject. If we can give these women a voice that’s what I felt most when I was sitting with them, hearing their stories.”
The way Martha pushes people away, goes into lockdown, isn’t unusual, she said. “An interesting thing to learn while playing this was that this is someone who didn’t feel able to speak about her experience properly. Because the depth of the trauma and the depth of the grief was just so deep that it was almost impossible to articulate.
“Yet she’s got these other energies in her life. It leads her to be a certain way in order to make it okay for those around her. And that feels like a very female experience somehow.
“And what I felt was the beauty about the film is that at the end she does find her own way to speak — and it’s on her terms. It’s her voice, her truth about her relationship with her child. So I always viewed it as a real story of female courage in a way.”
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