This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- A poignant time for the last Trebek episode to air.
- Give her an Oscar.
- Did not expect that Britney Spears twist…
- One actually nice thing that happened!!!
- Taylor Swift is back, again.
The opening sequence to Pieces of a Woman, which was released on Netflix Thursday, is devastating, to the point that there is a swath of its potential audience that might not be able to watch. It’s really that upsetting.
That said, it’s also astounding, directed by Kornél Mundruczó and with stunning acting work from Vanessa Kirby (the former Princess Margaret in The Crown) and Shia LaBeouf. It is one take that lasts 30 minutes, capturing the home birth of a couple played by Kirby and LaBeouf. Something goes wrong, and they lose the baby.
It is absolutely gutting, of course, but almost transformatively so because of the length and the intimacy of that jaw-dropping single take, building through the excitement to the panic to the horror as you watch, unable to escape the tragedy of what’s going on.
What stands out about Pieces of a Woman, which I expect will be a divisive movie, is that what could seem like a cinematic stunt doesn’t suck up the air of the broader story that follows. It’s a film about how this couple navigates this loss, a loss no one knows how to talk about, rationalize, or properly mourn. It fractures the couple. Her grief paralyzes her and sends her into a depression, which no one in her life knows how to navigate.
She’s pressured by her family to sue the midwife, an assumption that assigning blame will be healing. But what Kirby so masterfully captures is that healing can’t be earned, achieved, or manufactured. She plays a woman whose feet are stuck in the mud, who can’t lift her spirit out of her sadness but who must still attempt to live her days. For all the flashiness of that opening scene and the escalating peaks of excitement and then anguish, the stagnance of her malaise throws it into sharp relief.
It’s an incredibly difficult performance, and one for which Kirby should be up for every acting award. After its premiere in the (virtual) fall festival circuit, she even emerged as a Best Actress frontrunner. But now she’s in a familiar position that plagues female performers in Hollywood: overshadowed by the shittiness of her co-star.
LaBeouf has been scrubbed by all of Netflix’s awards FYC ads and recent press materials for the film following the allegations made against him of a cycle of abuse by his former romantic partners, including the musician FKA Twigs. It puts Netflix and Kirby in a difficult place.
The discussion surrounding LaBeouf threatens to dominate praise for the film. And a typical press tour that an awards hopeful like Kirby would go on would be derailed by media interest in her thoughts about LaBeouf. It is the typical narrative that we’ve seen since the #MeToo movement started, that the women who are in the films with the bad men are peppered with questions about them, in some cases even asked to speak for them. It’s a terrible pattern.
I bring this up because I hope this doesn’t become the case with Kirby. I can’t urge you to watch Pieces of a Woman because, again, it’s very upsetting. But if you do, even if you’re not a fan of the narrative in general, I guarantee you’ll find her work in it to be exceptional.
According to Twitter, “Britney Spears’ ex fiancé for 55 hours was one of the insurrectionists who invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.” You can see their evidence below.
I would be lying if I said I had any idea what to say about that information. But it is information. I did gasp “oh my god!” when I saw it, and now here we are with the knowledge that apparently Britney Spears’ ex-fiancé for 55 hours was one of the insurrectionists who invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Something nice happened this week! Really it, did.
Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical raised over $1 million for the Actors Fund in its three days of streaming. “What is Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical?” you may ask, as I did when my friends were all talking about it. I, a person who hears the word “TikTok” and then screams “get off my lawn!” and runs away, was woefully ignorant.
The simple explanation is that it’s an original music adaptation of the beloved Pixar movie that began as seeds of an idea on the social media platform and eventually got so many people involved and became so popular that creative artists from all across the country banded together to compose and film a taped version, featuring original songs performed remotely by its cast.
I watched it! It was nice! That was a nice, brief feeling.
Taylor Swift released more songs from the deluxe edition of her second quarantine album, evermore, this week—you know, should you want to be any sadder. Here’s the link!
Pieces of a Woman: It’s not an easy watch, or for everyone. But I thought it was excellent. (Now on Netflix)
Tiger: Tiger Woods gets The Last Dance treatment… and it is juicy. (Sunday on HBO)
Dickinson: Season two of the Horny Emily Dickinson series. If that’s for you, you’ll know by reading that description. (Friday on Apple TV+)
Call Your Mother: It brings me no pleasure to report that Chief Brenda Johnson, The Closer’s Kyra Sedwick herself, is now in an ABC multi-cam sitcom called Call Your Mother. (Wednesday on ABC)