Pieces Of A Woman: A Heroic Journey To Individuation

Film Review

Pieces of a woman: A journey to put pieces back together

The story is about a loss: A woman loses her newborn right after birth because of the midwife’s unintentional fault, and the rest of the film is about the difficulties she goes through to overcome the sorrow. The loss is a new beginning for Martha (Vanessa Kirby). That is the beginning of a journey that Carl Jung, a Swiss psychoanalyst, calls the heroic journey to individuation or self-growth. He believes that there are some symbolic stages for all human beings known as archetypes that make their journey. This journey starts with a ‘departure,’ continues with the ‘initiation,’ and ends in the ‘return.’


In Pieces of a Woman when Martha loses her baby girl, she leaves everything behind. She doesn’t appear in court involving the death of the baby. She has no direct contact with her mother, and even she avoids her partner. She is mournful. She wants to leave behind whatever is familiar to her, but one thing: the apple. She remembers that the  time her baby was born, it smelled like a red apple. Now her journey initiates; she wants to experience the unfamiliar world and to put together her pieces. 


She buys a book about sprouting and decides to grow an apple tree. Meanwhile, her mother invites the family over for a meal, but the real intention is to convince Martha to go forward with a lawsuit. That leads to a quarrel with her mom as she says to Martha “if you had done it my way, you’d be holding your baby in your arms right now.” Then she adds “Lift your head and fight for yourself, for God's sakes! Go out there and face that woman.” This tense moment awakens Martha to become her own self, and to act in her own way. Since her mother is a Holocaust survivor, sees justice as a punishment that the guilty receives. But Martha has a different worldview. She believes that not every incompetence can be compensated. So, this time she stands up for herself and appears in court determined to forgive her midwife. 


At the end of her speech in court, we see happiness and satisfaction on her face by her own choice of forgiveness as she completes her individuation, so grows to the stage of independence. Now she is free from the shadow of her mother who tried to help her in her own way, and near the end of the movie, we see Martha getting together with her mom and sister in a café returning to the familiar world with new insight.


   - Unintentional: not done deliberately or on purpose

   - Sorrow: a feeling of great sadness

   - Psychoanalyst: therapist, a person who uses the medical treatment that involves talking to patients about their life, feelings, etc to find out the hidden causes of their problems

   - Sprout: if vegetables, seeds, or plants sprout, they start to grow

   - Convince: to make someone feel certain that something is true

   - Lawsuit: a problem or complaint that a person or organization brings to a court of law to be settled

   - Incompetence: lack of the ability of skill to do a job properly

   - Compensate: to make up, to replace or balance the effect of something bad

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

   - Director: Kornél Mundruczó

   - Genre: Drama

   - Main Characters: Vanessa Kirby, Shia Labeouf, Ellen Burstyn

   - Running Time: 2h 6m

Pieces Of A Woman: A Heroic Journey To Individuation

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