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The Scene In Pieces Of A Woman That Ellen Burstyn Finds Hard To Talk About

Netflix's latest awards season player Pieces of a Woman has been in the news quite a bit of late — and not always for good reasons, as the film's co-star Shia LaBeouf has recently been accused of some deeply troubling behavior. With any luck, the narrative will shift in the coming days, because Pieces of a Woman is a jaw-dropping work of drama that deserves to be seen by as many eyes as possible. And yes, the film's awards season potential is real, thanks to the astounding work of star Vanessa Kirby and her on-screen mother Ellen Burstyn.

If you're unaware of the film, Kirby stars as a mother-to-be whose decision to home-birth her child goes wrong in devastating fashion. What ensues is a heartbreaking story of a young woman struggling to put herself back together in the wake in unfathomable loss. While that story is often every bit as agonizing as you'd imagine, in a recent interview with the UK publication Independent, Burstyn claimed there's one scene in the film she still hasn't gotten over.

The scene in question sees Burstyn's character engaged in a heated exchange with her daughter about the tragedy, and cruelly stating, "If you'd done it my way, you'd be holding your baby in your arms right now." Per Burstyn, though good comes of the encounter, it remains difficult to discuss in large part due to the raw-nerve emotion involved.

"It's hard to talk about that scene, because there was so much that exploded out of me that had been held back. I feel like the connection that Vanessa and I developed, which was real and deep, allowed for a level of reality to enter the room so that we were able to allow what needed to happen to come through."

The scene proved both difficult and cathartic for Burstyn's Pieces of a Woman co-star Vanessa Kirby

The scene resonates so because the explosion, Burstyn notes, comes from both sides, and prior to the moment Kirby's character has almost entirely internalized her grief and anger. And yes, when Burstyn's character unleashes that soul-piercing "If you'd done it my way" statement, more or less placing blame for the tragedy on the shoulders of Kirby's grieving mother, it almost becomes too much to bear, let alone watch.

Per Kirby (who also participated in the Independent interview), that line ultimately led to the outpouring. "That's the thing that lacerates Martha the most, but also begins to allow her to speak her truth. I think she goes through a profoundly transformative journey. By the end, she finds her voice more than she ever has in her life."

As the interview continued, it came out that much the scene's dialogue shifted from take to take, with Kirby claiming both actors were caught off guard by the intensity. She also revealed that the emotional release she felt in the moment was more than genuine. "It was a mother and daughter facing each other and actually saying what they think and feel for the first time probably in their lives," she explained. "And these are two people who don't really reveal their pain to people. So I think when that moment happened, neither of us expected it to be that explosive, but my God it was such a relief."

For a film so uncompromising, the difficult scene does eventually provide a bit of an emotional salve, even if the road ahead for the characters will surely remain quite rocky. And as for Vanessa Kirby and Ellen Burstyn, one can only hope such stunning work earns each a spot in every awards season conversation to come.