After losing her baby while giving birth at home, Martha (Vanessa Kirby) struggles with the loss, her partner (Shia LaBeouf) and her mother (Ellen Burstyn) who wants her deeply involved in the ensuing legal process against the midwife. A stage play impressively transferred to the big screen, starting with a brilliantly conceived and filmed opening childbirth sequence, 24 minutes long. What follows can’t quite match it; the symbolism is a bit on the nose and that final, dream-like sequence looks tacked on. Still, frequently engrossing thanks to a superb cast: Kirby in the lead and Burstyn as the imposing mother, showing signs of dementia.
2020-U.S.-Canada. 126 min. Color. Produced by Ashley Levinson, Aaron Ryder, Kevin Turen. Directed by Kornél Mundruczó. Screenplay, Play: Kata Wéber. Music: Howard Shore. Cast: Vanessa Kirby (Martha), Shia LaBeouf (Sean), Ellen Burstyn (Elizabeth), Molly Parker, Sarah Snook, Iliza Shlesinger… Benny Safdi.
Trivia: Co-executive produced by Martin Scorsese.
Venice: Best Actress (Kirby).
Last word: “We spent time together, four days, reading the script and talking about the characters, arguing with Kornél and Kata. You know how actors are: ‘Well, what about if she does this?’ We went through all of that; got to know each other, and got to relate to each other as the characters. I invited Vanessa to come spend the night; she did, and we had a nice pajama party and talked on a deep level. I cooked her dinner and, like a good mother, I cooked her breakfast. We got to know each other and really love each other. It was very easy, actually, for me to feel maternal toward her. Which I still do.” (Burstyn, Screen Rant)