Shia LaBeouf has been in and out of the tabloids lately with a number of different dustups and some possibly career-threatening issues related to his personal life. But that hasn’t stopped him from being a draw when it comes to his actual on-screen work. On January 11th, his latest film Pieces of a Woman was the second-most streamed movie on Netflix.
In Pieces of a Woman, Shia LaBeouf stars alongside Vanessa Kirby as a couple who are on the verge of having their first child. What starts as a sweet movie around the ideas of impending parenthood goes off the rails pretty quickly. During a planned home birth, their child does not survive and the couple is left to deal with the fallout in not only their relationship but also with the midwife (Molly Parker) who they initially blame for the tragedy.
Pieces of a Woman is a heartbreaking story that will hit just about anyone who has had children or been through the sometimes scary process of birth. What makes it hit home particularly *well* is the relationship between Shia LaBeouf and Kirby and how quickly it devolves once tragedy strikes. LaBeouf’s character struggles with a number of different things like infidelity and substance abuse in the aftermath of the events.
The film was well-received critically, currently sitting at 71% on the Tomatometer and 67 on Metacritic. Critics, almost universally, felt it was an excellent character study around grief and loss, particularly praising Kirby’s performance as a devastated mother who’s lost her first child. Many are quick to admit that while good cinematically, it can be a tough watch at times, especially in the beginning around the birth scenes and subsequent aftermath. In this case, Kirby does receive a bit more praise than Shia LaBeouf which makes sense considering the mother is at the center of the initial pain and loss.
Originally, Netflix probably thought that they had a movie in Pieces of a Woman which had a chance to enter the awards season discussion. Considering the timing of its release, they likely viewed it as being worthy of discussion when it came to Best Picture. But in the last few weeks, they were forced to distance themselves a bit from Shia LaBeouf when it came to “for your consideration” material.
That’s because the actor has once again cropped up in the news with some disturbing allegations coming from a number of different sources. Primarily, musician FKA Twigs, with whom Shia LaBeouf had been in a relationship a few years back, filed a lawsuit against the actor which detailed a number of instances of abuse. Those included choking, being slammed into a car, and even allegations of sexual assault. The lawsuit paints a disgusting picture of their relationship and if proven true LaBeouf could face significant punishment.
On the heels of this news and Netflix distancing themselves from the actor, Shia LaBeouf once again entered a rehab program to deal with addiction and psychological issues. This isn’t the first trip for the actor who claims to have spent time in rehab earlier in his life and also entered a program in 2019 for similar issues. It was during that stint that he wrote Honey Boy, a semi-autobiographical account of his childhood and relationship with his father.
It’s unclear what is next for Shia LaBeouf. He has no movies currently in the pipeline and these latest allegations aren’t likely to help the actor in finding new work. There’s just a certain level of toxicity (probably warranted) around him. Rehab along with an impending lawsuit likely make it difficult for studios to commit to anything in the short term.
But for now, you can catch a movie that, the star’s issues aside, still has rated well with critics and audiences. Much like Shia LaBeouf’s actual life, it isn’t an easy watch but in terms of a character study, it is raw and emotional. There’s a reason it was one of the most-streamed movies on Netflix so far this week. The actor may have his own issues and demons, but the work he does on screen still does rate from an artistic perspective.
Go check out Pieces of a Woman on Netflix starring Vanessa Kirby and Shia Labeouf. There’s still a chance we see it nodded to in awards season even if Labeouf’s name won’t be front and center there.