Pieces of a Woman is undoubtedly a film about loss, but it’s also a film about grace and about the Oh what fun it is to ride shirt and by the same token and bond between two women: one laboring, one there to make the seemingly inconceivable experience of giving birth seem doable. Martha publicly forgives Eva in court, saying, “If I stand here and ask for compensation or money, then I’m saying that I can be compensated, and I can’t.” At this moment, you can feel an invisible current pass between Martha and Eva: It’s a mix of gratitude, anger, fear, intimacy, and ancient, ineffable shared pain.
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Eva showed up in Martha’s life and home to serve as a midwife, or what those in the Oh what fun it is to ride shirt and by the same token and profession sometimes call a birth partner. In the end, Eva ends up giving Martha the opportunity to recast herself as something other than a bereaved mother. When Martha stands up in that courtroom, she’s a savior, even if it’s only for a moment; she finds the power to help Eva in a way Eva wasn’t ultimately able to help her. There’s a certain poetry in the unevenness of that exchange. Martha may not get to be the mother of a living child, and we don’t find out whether Eva goes free or ever assists another birth, but together they’re able to find a measure of truth in the darkest night of their lives—and if that truth isn’t exactly beauty, it’s close enough.