Vanessa Kirby is an English stage, TV, and film actress. From 2016 to 2018, Kirby portrayed Princess Margaret in Peter Morgan's Netflix series The Crown, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Television Series in 2018.
“I was a very anxious person, very, very sensitive. I think that’s probably part of why somehow I always wanted to be an actress…because I felt things very deeply. I don’t think I back myself enough and self-doubt is really painful. Essentially that voice that’s saying, ‘you’re not good enough,’ or ‘you did that so badly,’ or, inherently a core self-belief of not being enough. We do live in a society where there’s constant comparison pressures…I think that it’s a painful place to be.”
One of my first questions will always be, ‘Is this something that scares me?’ A lot of movies have these very neatly drawn female archetypes who are a film version of women, and that’s not what I identify with, from my experience of being a woman in the world, I know that you have to be an agent of that change. I know how wonderful it felt for me to have that space on a set, and now to be creating a company where I can continue to make those choices.
Happy 33rd birthday Vanessa Kirby! (April 18, 1988)
Pieces of a Woman. D: Kornel Mundruczo (2020). The first half-hour of Pieces of a Woman would have been an intensely harrowing short. Martha and Sean, a Boston couple (Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeof) are expecting their first child, their midwife is out of town when the contractions come, and she sends another midwife (Molly Parker) who soon realizes the baby’s heart rate is dangerously low. We see Eve’s concern turn to fear and Martha’s growing pain and panic. Mundruczo (working from a script by his partner Kata Weber, based on their own experience) keeps the tension growing into a denouement of both relief and tragedy. The rest of the movie is an emotionally specific depiction of a specific painful event and how it lays bear fissures in the couples relationship (you see LaBeof’s foot out the door almost immediately) with each other and with Kirby’s mother (Ellen Burstyn as an overcontrolling Holocaust survivor). Kirby gives a good depiction of a woman balancing survivor’s guilt and anguish with her moral and emotional responsibility. The last hour-and-a-half has no false notes or shallow performances. But it still feels like a long exhalation after holding our breath for 30 minutes.
Pieces of a Woman was Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress – Vanessa Kirby. Streaming on Netflix.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday. D: Lee Daniels (2020). Andra Day, a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, gives a creditable performance as Jazz legend Billie Holiday, catching a quick, impatient mind that flows easily into her singing style (and as opposed to last years Oscar biopic about Judy Garland, sounds convincingly like the singer). But the movie is less interested in Holiday’s music than in her heroin addiction as well as that of whoever was around her. Daniels posits that the FBI harassed the singer because she wouldn’t stop singing the anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit,” (with Garrett Hedlund twirling his moustache as Treasury Department head Harry J. Anslinger, who, while credibly a racist, doesn’t put across the Javert-like singlemindedness the ham-handed script demands). It also turns the FBI agent infiltrating her inner circle (who she once gave a signed copy of her autobiography with a note graciously forgiving him) into a longtime friend and lover (played by Trevante Rhodes) which by all accounts was just made up. The film is overlong, unfocused, and as boring as most movies about junkies. This particular junkie was one of the most important figures in American jazz, and probably it’s greatest singer. Would have been nice to have heard more about this.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress – Andra Day. It is streaming on Hulu.
Shia LeBeouf and Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman (2020), directed by Kornel Mundruczo. Kornel was born in Hungary and has 21 director credits, from three 1998-99 shorts, to two films now in pre-production. I am not familiar with any of his other director credits. Kornel also has 19 credits as an actor, from 1996, and they all appear to be Hungarian.
This scene from Pieces of a Woman (2020) with Molly Parker and Vanessa Kirby also includes Shia LeBouf. This 23 minute scene towards the beginning of the film took six takes to complete over two days. The fourth take was used in the film. It gives the appearance of all being filmed in one take with no edits.
Shia LeBeouf and Vanessa Kirby in a publicity still for Pieces of a Woman (2020), written by Kata Weber, the partner of director Kornel Mundruzco. The film is based on their real life experience. Kata has two previous writing credits from 2014, to two projects now in production. Kata also has 23 acting credits from 1998 to 2017.
Vanessa Kirby as Martha in Pieces of a Woman (2020). Vanessa was born in London and has 33 acting credits from 2010 to four films in various stages of production including Mission Impossible 7 and 8. Her other notable credits include a 2014 version on the telly of A Streetcar Named Desire as Stella Kowolski with Ben Forster as Stanley and Gillian Anderson as Blanche, 17 episodes of The Crown as Princess Margaret, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, and Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.
Vanessa Kirby as Martha in Pieces of a Woman (2020). Richard Brody wrote in The New Yorker "Its effortful grandiosity transforms it into something hollow and even, at times, risible," In addition to being hollow and risible, twice in his review Richard calls the film banal, and for good measure, he throws in "a trope of bathos"
Vanessa Kirby and Ellen Burstyn are mother and daughter in Pieces of a Woman (2020). The film was photographed by Benjamin Loeb, Ben has 33 cinematography credits from a 2007 short to two unreleased films. Most of his credits are for shorts. His three previous features are Canadian, German, and Belgian.
“There's just so much work to do that’s progressive and I’m just setting up my own production company. I've always wanted to do it and I know now I'm ready. I know that it's a very small part of a very big industry, to represent a female experience on screen. I just feel like my part is to create, find, and represent things on screen that as a public collective consciousness, maybe we haven't seen before and we haven't seen because it's been an incredibly male industry. I feel so strongly that you have to be at the forefront of creating those things...”
-Vanessa Kirby (Make It Reign with Josh Smith podcast)