Netflix's 'Pieces of a Woman' Ending Explained: Is Martha's little girl a dream or will she have another child?
A jilted Martha approaches recovering from the trauma with her stoicism first, and later with rage. Here's how she finds closure
Spoilers for Netflix's 'Pieces of a Woman'
Kornél Mundruczo's 'Pieces of a Woman' attempts to pass off a lot of problematic behavior as a means to reconnect with a person who is devastated and scarred. Be it the unnecessarily judgmental mother asking her daughter to fight a lawsuit out of an enforced need for 'justice', or a frankly lesser-than husband forcing her to have sex with him after dwelling in trauma for months. Both of these people are somehow supposed to be looked at as aides that help the titular woman gather her pieces and learn to live in the aftermath of her newborn dying just moments after a risky homebirth. While The Crown's Vanessa Kirby might be the only saving grace of an otherwise infuriating film that for some reason simply won't allow her to grieve, it is in the ending that respite and relief both come in the form of nothing short of a realistic fairytale. Read on to find out how Kirby's Martha finally finds closure after that torturous experience.
At first glance, Martha doesn't come across as the type of person who seeks closure; she's the practical stoic one who just gets things done but opts for a home birth because she wants her baby to arrive at her own time. The homebirth goes awry when her midwife cant makes it in time and sends a replacement that Martha isn't quite confident about. She squirms at first, but later rusts the stranger completely, and after almost suffocating the baby, the birth is successful. Martha is however only able to hold her baby for a few seconds before the newborn turns blue and dies. The midwife had asked to call for an ambulance, but Martha under painkillers, still insisted she didn't want to go.
Overcome with guilt, and overwhelmed by how ashamed her hoity-toity mother feels about this, a jilted Martha approaches recovering from the trauma with her stoicism first, and later with rage. Her husband, Sean (Shia LaBeouf), acts exactly the way her spiteful mother thinks of him -- with needy despair, seedy morals, and practically forcing himself on her, and somehow even managing to gaslight her about putting him out of the mood for sex. Martha too gives upon him, even though the film still continues portraying him as the one who was wronged as she kisses a coworker at an office party. And from that point on, it's her against a world that wants her to sue the midwife for incompetence.
In all of this, Martha's sense of comforting respite comes from apple seeds. But before pop-culture will lead you to draw the cyanide inference, Martha sprouts more than just a will to reclaim her life as a woman. The grief, the loss, the child inside her body - it was all hers and nobody else's, and that Martha tries to embrace by germinating apple seeds. The reason, that comes out in Martha's testimony at the trial against the midwife, is that all she can remember about her newborn is how the baby smelled like an apple. After she takes the stand to acquit the midwife and the case is dismissed, Sean moves back to his hometown, even accepting a whopping sum of money from Martha's mother to never return. And it looks like Martha doesn't care either.
The ending scene is that of a more sunnily lit yard, and a little blonde girl climbing up a gigantic apple tree. Martha comes out to take the girl back into the house for dinner. Her name is Lucianna, and Martha finally has her baby in her arms. It's unsure if this is closure happens in Martha's dream or her future, but we'll bet on the latter. It's a little odd that the film would rely on a woman having a child to find closure and feel whole, but perhaps for some, that's all it takes to gather up the pieces and be at one.
'Pieces of a Woman' is now available for streaming on Netflix.