What is the meaning of the film Mother
Actors will love this movie. It is a actors film, a study of human emotions. Captured in many close-up shots of faces, in whose eyes the whole human drama is then reflected. From grief to hope to despair in a delayed blink of an eye. This is a film that pushes the viewer very deeply into their armchair. But it also has a difficult subject: "Pieces of Woman" tells of a couple who lose their baby when giving birth at home.
The film begins with short scenes in which the milieu is told in which the baby is born: the mother, Martha, played by Vanessa Kirby, comes from a snooty Boston family in which all women are blonde; the father, Sean, Shia LaBoeuf, works something on the bridge building - an underdog, mumbling, always looks like he's about to go to boxing training. Love brought the two together, and so now they become one family. The nursery is fully furnished, the home birth midwife is just a phone call away. Let's go. It starts.
The birth is shown in a single uncut 23-minute camera shot
And then a really impressive scene follows: In a single uncut 23-minute camera shot, from the onset of labor to the rupture of the bladder to the moment the baby, a daughter, is born, the birth is shown. 23 minutes, that may be a magically fast birth in reality - in a film it is eternal.
During this time you can go through several ups and downs and in between endlessly contradicting feelings. You do it here. Kirby and LaBoeuf play the parents-to-be as the woman and man they were before are flirty with each other, excited, insecure, trying. And without being able to say why, a great threat hangs over this scene all the time. The notion, no, the sure knowledge that fate is hanging by a very thin thread.
It's really a sensational scene where you don't even think about the fact that there is a camera being operated by someone who was close to the actors in the scenes. The one who changed rooms with them and let in the substitute midwife with the father-to-be, since the actual midwife was having a different birth that evening, of all times.
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Which is a bit unsettling, of course, but what the heck, and who ends up with the midwife and couple in the bedroom where the birth takes place. This fabulous cameraman, Benjamin Loeb, comes from Norway, captures parts of the action in a mirror so as not to show everything. The choreography of his camera keeps the tension all the time, makes you humble before the most existential of all miracles, birth.
And then, after a few breaths, the baby dies. And the main part of the film begins.
This is the first English-language production of the Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó, who often directs at the theater, also on German stages or at the Salzburg Festival, and his last major film, "Underdog" (2014), won the main prize of the series in Cannes Un Certain Regard received; It was about a rebellion of mixed breed dogs in Budapest against evil people, and the special thing was that up to 280 dogs were actually seen in individual crowd scenes, that individual dogs played important roles without using any trick. Everything was real, real actors played with real dogs, that alone made the movie remarkable.
You could say that the film revels in the suffering of its protagonists
Now there are two very different conceptions of art. One finds particularly artistic what reproduces reality as realistically as possible. The other hopes that art will dissolve reality, transform it into something removed from reality. In contrast to his dog film, which absolutely contrasted reality with something very special that bordered on a fairy tale, this time Mundruczó has devoted himself to a narrative that is as real as possible. And because the subject is such a particularly cruel, sad one, his film has a problem. One could say something undiplomatic, he delights in the suffering of his protagonists. In any case, the film lives from pain. And with all the acting art that is gathered there, unfortunately there are unintentionally funny moments.
For example, Martha, who lost her baby not so long ago, once eats an apple. An apple core falls on her hand. She looks at him. The symbolism is of course clear: core = life. Hopefully this will just be a moment that passes by with no further meaning, but it will still play a big part in the film. Because: Martha will still use a few more scenes to germinate apple pits. Yes, so flat. But still give life.
A memorial is even placed on this shockingly banal symbolism in that the cruel, kitsch-drenched final scene of the film, pasted on the back, is dedicated to it. Suddenly a blond little girl, whom we have never seen before, is doing gymnastics up a magnificent apple tree, picks a ripe apple and bites into it with a crack, like in the toothpaste advertisement, when it is already affectionately called to the table: by Martha. Dear God, please let it be a dream scene, one would like to exclaim, but is held back by the thought that even as a dream scene it is a terribly bad ending. So the poor mother was lucky again and still gave birth to a blond human child. Phew, went well again, hallelujah.
The viewer takes refuge in irony in the face of the spelled tragedy
But even if you give yourself this apple thing, there are moments of involuntary comedy. For example, once the fine, older Boston mother of the female main character gave a monologue bursting with emotions. She is played by Ellen Burstyn, who was the mother in the famous horror film "The Exorcist" in 1973, ran the famous Actors Studio in New York for a while with Al Pacino and was nominated for an Oscar six times, most recently for her leading role in " Requiem for a Dream "(2001).
She is now 88 years old and looks fabulous, but from a purely age point of view, it doesn't make sense that she plays Martha's mother, after all, the film allows itself this kind of fairytale. In her monologue, she wants to convince her daughter to take legal action against the midwife. And with all the suffering with the dead child, suddenly there is also talk of her own, previously unknown past as a child in the ghetto. As convincing as Burstyn's tears glisten in their eyes, and as poignant as the scene should be - with all this spelled out tragedy, the viewer no longer has room for his own feelings, and so he takes refuge in irony.
At this point, for example, when it was presumably thought that one would now reach for a handkerchief, one wonders slightly annoyed whether Sarah Snook, the great redhead from the series "Succession", who is present in this scene - she plays a lawyer - actually always plays exactly the same role (seems so), why the music is rumbling along so soulfully, and how long the whole thing will actually go on. In other words: The almost holy seriousness of the birth scene gives way to some disappointment in the further film.
But of course - it's still a huge taboo to lose a baby, be it during pregnancy or at birth. The parents are alone with it, alone in mourning. There is no tradition of parting rituals to hold on to. A pregnancy that does not result in a child is always a severe loss that is little talked about, especially not in public, but also hardly among friends or family. In this respect, the film takes up an important topic. Because not only is a happy birth a miracle, but it borders on a miracle to cope with losing a baby. And so every film about this loss is a gain, because it conveys the important message, the only consolation: You are not alone.
Pieces of a woman - Canada, Hungary, USA 2020. Director: Kornél Mundruczó. Book: Kata Wéber. Camera. Benjamin Loeb. With: Shia LaBoeuf, Vanessa Kirby, Ellen Burstyn. 126 minutes. On Netflix.
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