When a home birth ends in the worst possible tragedy we follow Martha’s journey over the following year attempting to deal with the grief and mourning. Destroying all of the relationships she has with those close to her, trying to learn how to cope with it all.
Martha and Sean were excited parents to be and we see the build up to the birth which was shot in a truly outstanding thirty minute opening scene which included what looked like a continuous 23-25 minute shot. That was truly incredible and more than took your breath away. It did not attempt to make pregnancy appear as a wonderful amazing time where it did not hurt. It did the opposite, truly tough to watch and take in. I’ve never been through this and it makes me never want to as it was that brutal to watch, I’d love to hear how people who have been through it feel about this opening.
I guess one of the main issues through after this point is that it was then never going to be able to keep up that tense nature and brutal moments. It really was such an opening that you feel truly broken with another 100 minutes to still unfold. A court case against Eva who was the midwife for the birth, those scenes were tough in the court as I couldn’t help feel sorry for her. She didn’t actually seem like she did anything wrong? It then also raises the issues with having a home birth if something does go wrong during a pregnancy.
It well and truly destroyed the relationship between Martha and Sean, you could immediately tell that they would not be able to get through it together. Something that I hope would happen and they could support one another, given they had been through it together and probably the only two people who could relate to what had happened to them. But that was something that was not possible and they didn’t want to accept any of it. I went through phases of feeling sorry for them both for different reasons and at different moments.
Then we get Elizabeth who is Martha’s mother and offers some very strange advice and does not really show a lot of support towards her daughter in the sense of allowing her the time she needed to process the situation. I seriously cannot imagine anything so terrible and that a person will never ever get over that loss, it would more be having to manage the grief. Martha speaking in the courtroom towards the end was a truly brave and incredible moment that helped show that nothing could be done to replace her baby.
This is Vanessa Kirby’s film no doubt about it, a truly amazing and incredible performance. That opening is haunting and the fact that she has not had any children herself yet makes it even more unreal given that in preparation she watched documentaries/videos as well as shadowing midwives in a North London hospital and even allowed to be in the room when women were giving birth. If that wasn’t perfection to get it all right and real I don’t know what else could be. The we see her process the grief and having that intense performance. Something that was quite interesting was that while odd moments with crying were included it wasn’t portrayed as just crying. I found that as a numbing performance as she was struggling to even feel anything. Oscar nomination incoming!
Then in terms of support Shia LaBeouf in that opening scene was fantastic as well, I thought his reactions to Kirby were very impressive. Although he is then not really given much else to do in terms. of being removed from the film. His attempt at the grief process was also good though. Ellen Burstyn will get a lot of awards buzz from one random scene where her character is quite frankly horrible to her daughter, although I felt this was bizarre casting considering she is way too old to be Kirby’s mother and looked more like grandmother which is I personally found rather frustrating in all honesty. So she will probably win an Oscar.
A truly emotional journey where when you are watching you will never really recover from that opening thirty minutes. I haven’t felt as emotionally drained since watching Marriage Story and I really do think that is the best way to praise the performances even more.