Pieces of a Woman (2020) – Transcript

When a young mother's home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.
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Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Martha and Sean are a Boston couple on the verge of parenthood whose lives change irrevocably when a home birth ends in unimaginable tragedy. Thus begins a yearlong odyssey for Martha, who must navigate her grief while working through fractious relationships with her husband and her domineering mother, along with the publicly vilified midwife, whom she must face in court. A deeply personal, searing, and ultimately transcendent story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.

 

 

[horn wailing]

Up!

Tommy, take it up!

He’s big-dealing the fuck out of every lift, Bob. You put him in.

If every pillar takes four days, you’re looking at a six-month delay.

That’s your guy.

[Robert] You need to calm down, brother.

I promised my daughter she’d be the first one to cross this bridge.

[Robert chuckles] The one who hasn’t even been born yet?

That’s the one.

– Go up!

[Robert laughing]

Why are you coming down again? Get him out, man.

– How is Martha?

Martha’s fine. She’s always fine.

– Hey, what time is it?

[Robert] Three.

Mark and Wendell are on break.

[Robert] All right.

[Robert] Hey, I need you to sign off on Jimmy’s time card tomorrow!

– Tomorrow!

[Robert] All right!

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

– [Martha] It’s low.

[woman] She kicking a lot?

[Martha] Is she… Yeah, um…

– Yeah. She’s moving around a lot now.

Top or bottom?

– [Martha] Sorry?

Is she mostly at the top or bottom?

[Martha] It’s late.

– It’s not exactly pleasant.

You’re so lucky.

[Martha] Aw, that’s really nice.

– Yeah.

Thank you. We’ll see how it goes.

[sighs in frustration] Fuck.

First, need you to…

sign right here.

[Martha] Mm-hmm.

Initial.

[Chris] Date.

You forgot down here.

Initial. Right next to…

If you guys are all set, I’m gonna take off.

– [Martha] Bye, sis.

Thank you.

– [Anita] Bye.

[Chris] See you later.

I love you. See you at home.

– All right.

[Anita] Good luck.

And then, for you…

I just need one on the bottom.

And then, you’re good. You got yourselves a car.

– Thank you, Chris.

[Chris] Of course. My pleasure.

You’re thanking him for his getting commission.

– Thank me, I’m buying it.

Thanks, Mom.

[Chris] Thank you.

Thank you for that.

Congrats. You got a car.

– [Elizabeth] I’m glad you made it.

Congrats. All set.

[Elizabeth] I’ve been meaning to ask,

how is it you can build a bridge when you can’t tell time?

[forced laughter]

That’s… that’s very good. Oh, that’s very funny.

In the back. I had them move it. So I’ll be there in a second.

– [Martha] Thanks.

[Elizabeth] Bye.

Just one last thing. I need your social security right here.

– What do you need my social security for?

Just like a credit thing.

– She likes you. She just can’t show it.

[Sean] No, she doesn’t.

– She did just buy us a car.

[Sean] She did.

But it was also a statement. She bought the car knowing I could buy it.

She wanted to minimize me. It’s not here. Next room.

That’s why she bought a minivan. She wants to emasculate me.

[horn honking]

That’s a good horn. Whoo!

– [continues honking]

The power.

– [roars]

Anita was so jealous.

Oh, my goodness. Who cares what Anita thinks? Fuck her.

– What does it matter?

It doesn’t matter. It’s just…

It doesn’t matter at all. That’s what matters. Look at that thing.

[Sean cheering]

[Martha] Oh, my God!

And she got it gray like her soul. It’s wonderful.

– It’s her spirit color.

Whoa. This is us now.

Yeah, it is.

That’s what matters right there. Cloth seats matter.

– Oh!

Seat heaters matter, airbags matter.

– I think you’re gonna look good in this.

Oh, yeah, this is it for me.

[both chuckling]

– [Sean] Ooh!

Oh.

– The three of us matter.

Yeah.

It’s the tribe that matters. Who cares what she thinks?

You know what matters? This is what matters here.

Yeah.

– Well, I got us something.

Oh, my God.

That is so cute.

Hey.

Wait, is it…

– Is this the wrong way around?

It’s the right way around.

No, it’s upside down. [chuckles]

No, that’s how I did it. It was a choice. That’s my daughter.

Wonky, interesting, charming, intelligent.

– Modest.

Modest, humble.

– [Sean] Should I call her?

Yeah.

– Do you want some water or something?

No.

[Sean] We’re moving right along. Why don’t you sit down, baby?

– Yeah, I will after a little.

Huh?

Sit.

– [Martha breathing heavily]

[line ringing]

Of course, now she’s not picking up the phone.

Hey, Barbara, hi, it’s us again.

So we’re having six-minute contractions now.

It’s moving… We’re, uh, we’re moving.

We’re finding our pace, we’re getting a little bit of a rhythm going,

and we feel pretty good.

When?

Oh, really?

Yeah, I mean, it’s new, but, uh… what can you do?

Okay, well, just keep us up to speed. We’re on the phone.

Thank you.

Ah, okay. Remember we went to the prenatal meetings and they said,

“Listen. We’re gonna flip some cards. Maybe something might not go perfectly,

might not go according to plan, things might change.”

– We’re flipping cards.

In what way?

So, Barbara has… She’s in the middle of a heavy labor.

– [Martha] She’s in a labor?

Do you remember Eva?

I do, but I’m in my labor…

– We liked her very much…

Can you call her?

– Eva?

Yes. I want to talk… No, Barbara.

– I wanna talk to her myself.

She’s in the middle of a labor.

Well, so am I.

[exhales] Yeah.

[line ringing]

– [Sean] It’s nothing to freak out about.

I’m not freaking out.

– I just want her here.

[Sean] Okay.

Like, how long is it gonna take? Did she say?

[Sean] Eva’s coming now and Barbara’s gonna come when she can.

I’m not in control.

– I’m just relaying information.

No. Shh.

[Sean] She’ll be here when she can get here.

That’s what I’m saying. Just calm down.

Let’s do something else. How about that? Let’s dance.

– Come here.

[Martha] I don’t wanna dance.

Distract me with something.

[Sean] Distract you with something? Like… a joke or something?

Yeah.

[Sean] A joke about something you like. What’s in the fridge?

Broccoli? Broccoli is in the fridge.

Broccoli’s favorite music. You know what it is?

You know what broccoli’s favorite music is?

– What is it?

Brock and roll.

– [laughing] No, it’s not.

Yes, it fucking is.

– That doesn’t go with broccoli at all.

Where does broccoli go get a drink?

– Where?

At the salad bar.

Come on, G. Come on!

[Martha] You’re so pathetic.

[Sean] Aw, wow.

– [Martha] What’s that?

Okay, okay, okay.

[Martha] Is that my water?

– Oh, my God.

It’s okay.

[Martha] What does that mean?

Where is she?

– Here we go.

[Martha] Shit.

Let’s get you out.

– Are these wet too?

[Martha] No, that’s fine.

– [Sean] Okay.

[Martha] Can you call her again?

– Because this is…

[Sean] I will.

This is actually hurting now. Oh, God.

Whoo!

Whoa! [chuckles]

Whoo…

[groans]

Oh, God. Fuck.

Don’t look at me like that.

[Sean] Why don’t you come over here?

– Come here, baby.

Oh, God.

[Sean] Come here.

[Martha] Not on that ball.

You don’t wanna sit on the ball? That’s what they gave it to us for.

– Why don’t you do the stretch thing?

Screw the stretch thing.

– Careful.

Fuck. I don’t really wanna do this.

[belches] Why do I feel so sick?

Wanna do it this way?

[exhales]

– What is the move?

Hmm?

[laughs]

Oh, God. Sorry. [belches]

[panting]

This feels weird.

I need to… Ugh, I feel so nauseous.

– Can you rub my back?

Mm-hmm.

– [Martha] Thank you.

Mm-hmm.

Oh, shit.

[groans]

I might throw up.

[Sean] You didn’t eat enough. What are you gonna throw up?

[belches] I don’t know. Sorry.

– You look very handsome.

[Sean] Thank you.

[chuckles] You also look super scared.

[Sean] I’m not.

– Really?

[Sean] Really.

– You freaking out?

[Sean] Not at all.

Your eyes look super, like

anxious.

– I’m not.

Give me a kiss, then.

You want kisses?

– [doorbell rings]

Not too much.

That’s her.

Look how quick that was. Look how fast that happened.

– Hey.

Hi.

We’re six minutes between contractions and her water just broke.

Oh, wow.

[Martha groaning]

– [Eva] That’s great. How you doing?

[Sean] I’m doing all right. How are you?

– [Eva] Good. Yeah. You talk to Barbara?

[Sean] Yes.

– [Eva] Okay, great. How are you doing?

[Sean] I’m good.

[groaning and belching]

– [Sean] You want some water?

No, I’m good.

– Is Barbara here? Is she coming?

[Sean] You want water?

– Hi. Hi, Martha.

Hi. [belches] Hi.

Sorry, I just feel super sick. Can you get me some water?

– [Sean] Okay.

Thanks. I need it.

How’s it going?

It’s fine. It’s just the last two have been really intense.

Mm-hmm.

– [Martha] I know…

Closer together.

[Martha] They are. Super nauseous.

– That’s…

[Martha] I haven’t really…

– Have you been throwing up?

[Sean] No, she didn’t eat anything.

– Okay. You know…

[Sean and Martha chatting indistinctly]

That’s pretty normal, actually. It’s actually kind of a good sign.

– Is it?

Means it’s moving along.

I’m really sweaty. Can you hold me?

[Eva] Hey. I know you were expecting Barbara,

and I know it’s always a bit weird when things change,

but I’m so happy to be here, okay?

– I’m gonna stay with you.

Another one’s coming.

Oh, God.

[Eva] Okay. Okay.

Do I just breathe or what do…

– Remember this?

Yeah.

– [Martha chuckling and groaning]

[Eva] Okay. Yeah.

[Martha whimpering, crying]

[Eva] Sweetheart.

What the… [inhales deeply]

Oh, this is really awful.

[groans]

[Eva] You’re doing so great. Breathe.

You’re doing so great. You’re doing so great.

– [Martha] You got any painkillers?

[Eva] Okay.

– See, they come up…

[mumbling curses]

…and then they go down and you just ride them.

This is awful.

[Eva] I… I just want to have a quick listen to her heartbeat. Okay?

– And just see how she’s tolerating labor.

Have you got the water?

[Eva] Could you maybe just lie down here for just a second?

– Can you hold my hand or my head?

[Sean] Yeah, of course.

Just need to…

– [Martha] You got the water?

[Sean] Yeah.

I’m gonna put this on your belly. It’s a little bit cold, okay?

[Martha] What’s this for? Oh, for the heartbeat?

[Eva] Yeah.

[Martha groaning]

– Why is this not coming out?

[machine whirring]

– [Sean] You gotta squeeze it here.

Hey. Listen.

– [baby’s heart beating]

[Sean] Listen.

[Martha] Are you okay?

– [Eva] Can you hear that?

Wow.

– [Eva] It’s really strong. That’s great.

You hear that?

– [Eva] She sounds really good.

Hi, baby.

– [Eva] Hi, baby.

– [Martha sighs]

[Eva] Aw. Okay, good. Great. You got it!

– I’m gonna do…

Did you hear that?

– [Sean] Yeah.

[Eva] Martha.

Martha, I’m gonna get you to scooch your bum onto this.

I need to do… Just to see where you’re…

Where you’re at, okay? Gonna do a little internal exam.

– To see how dilated you are.

I like your glasses.

[Eva] Thank you.

Hmm.

– Those are pretty quick together.

[Martha] Regret not having the epidural.

I think that’s a bit closer than six, right?

– [Sean] Way.

[Martha] Okay.

What?

[Sean] Talking about the time between contractions.

[Eva] Okay.

[Sean] Quicker than six.

[Eva] Okay, let’s move your legs right like this. Okay.

Okay. Yeah.

Just gonna put my fingers in and touch your cervix.

Yeah, it can be a little bit uncomfortable.

[Martha whimpering]

[Eva] Okay. Wow.

You’re, like, six centimeters.

And the baby’s really low.

[Martha] She’s coming?

– [Eva] She’s coming. It’s good.

[Martha] So fast.

– It’s great. You’re doing great. Okay.

[Martha] It’s just so quick.

[Eva] You’re doing great.

– Okay.

[Eva] Yeah. Totally great.

Hey.

– [Martha] Hi.

Hmm?

– [Martha] I feel super sick.

[Eva] Yeah.

Ow, ow. Oh… No, no, no…

[Eva] Okay, listen…

– Just breathe.

[groaning] Wait, wait, wait…

[howling in pain]

[Eva] Okay.

Oh, my God! Fuck!

[Eva] Yeah.

– [Martha] Oh, God!

It’s really happening now.

– Yeah.

[Martha] This is so bad.

– Listen.

[Martha] This is awful.

Hey, Martha. How do you think it would feel to be in water?

– I think we need to get her in the bath.

[Martha] What the fuck!

– Run a bath?

[Sean] Yeah.

– And I’ll just stay for a sec.

[Sean] Baby, you want a bath?

This is awful. This is so terrible.

– [Sean] Wanna take a bath?

Yes, whatever. Yes.

– [Eva] Okay.

Oh, God. I’m gonna be sick.

[Eva] Okay.

Ow!

[Eva laughing] Okay! You’re too out of it.

I can’t do this.

Eva, where’s Barbara?

[Eva] Yeah, you can.

You’re nice, but I can’t do this.

– You’re already doing it.

Oh, my God. What the fuck?

– I can’t do it.

Hey, you’re doing it.

We’re gonna get up now.

We’re gonna get up and we’re gonna go into the bathroom.

Come on. Come on.

– Come on, come on, come on…

[Martha whimpering]

[Eva] There you go.

– [Martha] I can’t.

[Sean] Okay.

Put your hands on here. We’re gonna get you up.

– Just have a little walk into the bath.

One, two, three.

– There we go.

[Eva] Okay.

– I can’t do this.

[Eva] Okay.

– Is my ass out?

[Sean] Just drop your weight, baby.

– Okay.

[Martha] She’s mean.

No, you can walk. Come on. You can walk.

– Let’s go.

I’m sorry. It’s embarrassing.

You can walk.

– There you go. [laughing]

[Martha] Did you ever do this before?

[Eva] I’ve done this before.

– [Martha belching] Oh, God.

[Sean] How many kids do you have?

– I have a little girl.

I’m gonna be sick.

– Little girl?

I have a girl. I have a daughter.

– Hey.

God, this hurts.

Have you taken the trash out? ‘Cause I can smell something really strange.

[Sean] I’ll take it out. Let’s just get you in the bathroom, yeah?

– Come here.

Okay.

[Eva] Okay. You guys go on and get in the bath.

I’m gonna set up in the bedroom, okay?

Okay.

[Martha] It’s gonna be all right.

– [Eva] How you doing?

[Sean] We’re good.

– [Eva] Good? Okay.

[Sean] Yeah. Babe, lift your arms.

[Martha] What? I’m trying.

There we go.

[Martha blows raspberry]

[belches] Oh, this is super awful.

This is really intense. I can smell myself. Oh, God!

– [Sean] The water’s good?

[Martha] Come on, baby.

Please. Why can’t she come out right now?

[softly] Hold my hand.

– [Martha exhales] This is better.

[Sean] Right?

– [Martha] Can you get some music?

[Sean] Music?

[Martha] And also maybe just shut the lights off.

[Sean] Yeah.

– [Sean kisses] I love you.

[Martha] Can you give me a kiss?

– [Sean kisses]

[Martha] I love you!

– I love you. Are you okay?

Yeah. Get the music.

Okay.

[soft music playing]

[inhales deeply]

Breathe, baby.

I’m breathing.

Okay.

This is so bad.

I think I’m gonna shit myself.

[softly] Ow!

[groaning slowly]

[Eva] Hey, that’s an interesting noise.

[continues groaning]

– [Sean] Hold still.

Yeah.

[Martha] God!

It’s like a pushing kinda noise. Are you feeling like you wanna push?

– I need to push.

Okay. Let’s get you out of the bath.

Okay.

– [Martha] Is that blood there?

[Sean] Okay, come on.

[Eva] It’s okay. It’s just a little bit. It’s totally okay.

Here we go. Come on. Let’s go into the bedroom.

[Martha] Push now, or…

[Eva] Nope, you can’t push now. You just wait. I need to do a little bit…

I need to check your dilation before you push, okay?

Just…

Yeah. Yeah.

[Sean] Lift up. There you go.

– [Martha] Ow, ow.

[Eva] Ooh, okay.

Too fat.

[Eva] Okay.

[Martha crying out]

– [Eva] Okay, Martha?

Yeah?

[Eva] I’m just gonna check your cervix and see where you’re at, okay?

[Martha] Ow! Ow…

I know, I know. Sorry, babe. I feel the baby’s head.

– [Martha] You do? She’s coming!

I don’t feel any cervix.

[Martha] Come on, baby.

I think you’re fully dilated.

– I think you’re wide open.

Easy for you, motherfucker.

– [Eva] Hey, Martha.

Yeah?

[Eva] Now, if you feel like it, you can push.

When it comes, you can push, okay?

Just give me two secs.

Oh, my God!

[Eva] Yeah. Yeah? Hey.

[groaning loudly]

[Eva] Attagirl.

Attagirl. Attagirl.

Oh, it’s so good. Okay.

– Good!

[Sean] Good. Good.

[Eva] Okay, okay.

Attagirl. That’s great.

Just like that. You’re a pro!

Doing so great.

I’m just gonna have a quick listen and see how the baby’s tolerating…

the labor, okay?

Yeah. Just rest, honey.

– [Sean] Rest, honey.

[Martha] I just wanna…

[muffled whirring]

[Martha breathing heavily]

[clears throat] Okay, you know, Martha, I’m gonna move you onto your side, okay?

‘Cause I don’t think the baby likes this position.

– Yeah, just this way, I think.

[Sean] Move her on her side?

– [Sean] Come on.

Yeah.

– [Martha]

Oh, God! It’s… It’s coming!

[Eva] So, you do the next one from here.

Okay.

Yeah. Attagirl. You push right into me.

[Martha groaning]

[Eva] Yeah.

Okay.

– [Sean] Okay.

[Eva] Bear down.

– Good. Good, good, good…

[Martha groaning in pain]

[Eva] Okay. Okay, okay…

[Martha] Is she here? Where is she? Where is she?

Okay, let’s see.

Now you just rest there a little bit.

[whirring]

Heart rate’s not coming all the way back up like we need it to.

What do you mean?

[Eva] I’m just gonna…

– [Sean] Hold on a second. Wait.

[Martha] Baby, no. Where are you going?

[Sean] The heart rate’s not coming up?

It’s fine. We’ve had two consecutive contractions

where the heartbeat hasn’t come all the way back up to where I want.

But it’s not outside the realm of normal.

– What is the realm of normal?

[Eva] Just…

– I’m gonna watch over the next few.

Okay.

[Eva] If it continues like this, we might have to call in backup.

We might have to transfer.

– To the hospital?

To the hospital.

But I’m watching, okay? You can go back in there with her.

– I’ll be right there.

We’re okay, though?

Yeah. We’re good. Go on.

[Martha groaning loudly]

– Baby? Listen to me.

Where’s my mother?

– Listen to me.

Yeah, what?

You’re doing great.

You’re pushing great. You’re doing a lot. You’ve been pushing for a while.

We’ve come a long way. It’s not a failure if we go to the hospital.

No, get me the chair. I’m not going to the hospital.

– If she says…

You can’t decide.

– [Eva] Martha? Hey, Martha.

I’m gonna do it here.

– She’s coming out. Just give me a second.

Listen. Listen.

You need to get this baby out now.

On this contraction. So you push with everything you’ve got, okay?

[Martha groaning]

There you go. Okay.

Okay. Come on, I can see her head. I can see her head.

Okay. Keep pushing. Push, push, push.

Push!

Push, Martha.

– Wait. Please. Come.

[Eva] Okay.

Okay. Let’s just see how we’re doing.

Come on.

Okay, you need to call them. Call 911.

Tell them we have a home delivery and the baby’s in distress.

– Okay.

[Martha] What do you mean?

[Eva] Martha, we need to get this baby out now.

Where’s the phone at?

[Eva] Okay? We’re gonna do it right now. You get up now.

Hi, I’m at 423 Formosa.

I need somebody to send an ambulance to a house for a home birth.

I’m in the middle of a home birth. I’m at 423 Formosa.

Yes, please. Thank you.

– Okay.

[Martha] I’m trying!

We’re gonna push this baby out right now. Take a deep breath and push.

– Push, baby.

[Eva] Push.

– [Martha groaning]

[Eva] Push!

Take another breath and keep pushing!

Come on! Come on, come on.

– Push, Martha!

[Sean] Push!

Hey, no relaxing! Take a breath. Push. Push this baby out.

– [Martha] Okay.

[Eva] Do it now!

Come on!

Come on!

Come on, keep pushing! Okay.

There we go!

[Eva] Okay, here she comes! Here she comes! Here she comes!

Come on, baby!

Come on! Yeah.

Okay! Okay, okay.

Hi!

[Martha] Hi, baby.

[Eva] Good girl. Come on. How’re you doing?

Come on. Let’s hear you.

[Martha] She’s so quiet. Oh, my God.

– [Eva] Hold on, you guys. Wait! Wait.

[baby cries briefly]

[Eva] Wait, wait, wait.

– [baby crying loudly]

[Eva] Okay. Hey!

Okay, she sounds good. She does. She sounds really good.

And the color’s good.

Hey! Hi, darling, you’re gonna go see your mama?

– [Martha] She’s so perfect.

[Sean laughing]

[Eva] Okay!

[Martha] Hi, sweetie!

– Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

[baby continues crying]

[Martha laughing]

Your eyes are so pretty.

Hi, baby.

I know.

[Eva] I’m just gonna cover her up a bit.

Hi, beautiful.

– [Eva] You did it.

[Martha] She’s perfect.

Oh, look it! Oh, look it!

[breathing shakily]

– [Sean] She’s a beauty.

Oh, my God.

[Martha] It’s all right, sweetie.

[Sean] She’s so calm.

[Martha] You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

[baby struggling to breathe]

You’re the most beautiful thing in the world.

Hi!

Hello. My daughter.

I need to take her. She’s blue.

[Martha and Sean] What?

– [Eva] Come on.

[Martha] What do you mean?

Come on, baby. Come on, baby.

No!

Come on.

– Come on, baby.

What do you mean?

[Eva] Come on.

– Okay. Come on, baby. Come on.

[ambulance siren wails in distance]

Get them in here. Get them in here right now.

– Come on, baby!

[burst of air gusting]

Come on, breathe! Come on.

Come on, little girl.

[sirens wailing]

We’re here!

Here!

Stop! Hey!

Come on!

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct murmurs]

Hi, I’m sorry. This is my desk.

Oh.

Am I that scary?

No, no, not at all.

I just… Just was, uh…

It’s just my time off has run out. So, if you don’t mind.

Okay. Oh, God. Gee, yeah. Leaving right now.

– Don’t worry about it.

Thank you.

I’m really sorry about that.

[chuckling nervously] Just grab my stuff.

Really sorry again about that.

[woman] We don’t take the time to do things anymore.

We don’t take the time to eat, to appreciate life.

I have a rule that there are no smartphones near me when I eat.

[song playing softly over speakers]

[sniffs]

[Judith] Martha, is that you?

Don’t you recognize me? I’m a friend of your mom’s.

– [Martha] Oh, yes.

We play bridge together.

– Of course, yes.

Right. And how… how are you?

– I’m good. Yeah.

Yeah? Yeah.

You know, your mom tells me absolutely everything.

I know everything, yeah.

Gosh, it’s so horrible.

It’s all that swindler’s fault.

She will surely rot in prison. I promise.

There will be consequences.

[indistinct]

Nice shirt.

Thank you.

You’re welcome.

Put your seat belt on.

[seat belt clicks]

– Want some music?

No.

Penny for your thoughts.

None.

Martha, there’s something. I know you’re worried.

About this. Worried what they’re gonna find.

– What they’re gonna find?

Yeah.

[Martha] A glass of wine before we fucked?

Or that I had sushi?

Or do you mean, uh… like your stuff?

[Sean] My stuff.

My… Like my sobriety?

Yeah, I mean, well, it’s not even been like, what, like…

– Long time.

Mm-hmm.

Six years, five months, three days.

Four days.

Four days.

[man] We don’t have theories regarding the cause of death.

During the criminal autopsy,

we ran histology, toxicology and microbiology screens.

The results of the exam show no signs of a preexisting infection,

chromosomal abnormality or irregularity of the placenta.

What we did determine was the little girl was in a low-oxygen environment.

In 60% to 70% of these cases, we rarely find a satisfactory explanation.

– You’re a doctor, yeah? What’s your name?

Dr. Ron.

Dr. Ron. You’re a doctor, Dr. Ron. [laughing] You’re a fucking doctor.

[Dr. Ron] There are certain things, medically, we just don’t have answers for.

There’s already proceedings against the midwife

and there will be a medical expert opinion very soon to determine…

What about your medical expert opinion? You’re a medical expert.

I mean, what do you… You don’t know anything.

If it could have been prevented, who’s at fault.

You don’t know shit is what you’re saying.

[Dr. Ron] There are certain questions I can’t answer.

What can you answer at the moment? Right now?

[Dr. Ron] What is certain is that the proceedings have begun and there…

Fuck!

Uh, sorry.

[sniffling]

I’m gonna go outside. Sorry.

[Dr. Ron] These things could take time.

[Martha] Where is she now?

– [Dr. Ron] She’s in the morgue.

[Sean sniffling]

Is it possible to donate the organs?

No. The criminal medical expert has excluded that.

Oh.

Some decide to…

offer the body…

for medical science and educational purposes.

Very sorry for your loss.

Thank you.

– [Martha] What do I owe you?

[driver] Twenty-five dollars.

[Martha] Twenty-five. There you go. Thank you.

– [driver] Thank you.

[Martha] Bye.

[Elizabeth] You need to pick which inscription you like, honey.

Your grandmother is resting in the family grave.

– What’s wrong with…

Did you write that?

[man] Yes.

– You wrote that?

[man] Yes.

That isn’t my daughter’s name. It’s Yvette.

Starts with a “Y,” ends with an “E.”

“Yvette.”

[man] I’m sorry.

Don’t blame him. Sean dictated it to him.

Yeah, great-grandmother, Hungarian spelling.

So it’s not at the end of the name list forever.

[Martha] That doesn’t make any sense at all

because name lists are by last name.

And we chose the American spelling for you.

[Sean] Yeah, but it’s a small detail, Martha.

– Small detail.

[Sean] Yeah.

Yeah.

Yeah, you’re right.

No, it is a small detail.

Small detail. ‘Cause there’s not… There’s not gonna be a funeral anyway…

– There’s not gonna be a funeral.

[Sean] I didn’t mean it like that.

– [Martha] Not gonna be a gravestone.

[Sean] Martha? I’ll change the spelling.

– Can you at least pick which style?

[Martha] It’s all one big waste of time.

What?

[Elizabeth] Martha.

Martha!

– Can you just pick a style today?

[Anita] Martha!

There’s really no point. I’m gonna donate her body

to the university, so…

This is just like…

[Anita] Martha!

[Martha muttering] Complete waste of time.

Martha! Come on!

Oh.

Can I have one?

Please, go ahead.

Just… keep the order and we’ll make a few small changes

and I’ll pay for it.

No, I’d like to pay for it.

I’d like to pay for it.

Thank you.

There’s some stuff I can pay for.

[Elizabeth] Sean, don’t smoke it. You’ll relapse.

– Sean, where are you going?

[Sean] Five minutes.

Fuck.

[Elizabeth] Sean.

[Sean clears throat]

[Elizabeth] She needs help.

She doesn’t know what she’s doing.

I mean, she’s just piling mistake upon mistake.

[Elizabeth sighs]

That’s why it’s our job to show her what’s right.

What does that mean?

You know Suzanne, right? Her cousin?

– No.

No?

Well, she’s just a remarkable girl.

She has a beautiful office downtown.

She said that she will take on and handle a civil suit for us,

if I put all the documentation in her hands.

– You want me to give you the paperwork.

Exactly.

Mm.

Yeah, I gotta talk to Martha about that first.

Really?

My… Don’t you want someone to answer for this monstrosity?

Martha can’t sort through all of this now.

That’s why I thought

maybe you might take a little responsibility for a change.

[Sean scoffs]

Well, really.

Yeah, I’d like to hand it to her myself, if you don’t mind.

When?

Soon.

Well, you better.

Let me out at the next corner. I wanna walk the rest of the way.

You don’t want me to take you to the door?

No, I feel like I need a little air.

[door opens]

Hi.

[Sean] Hey.

[Martha] Are you smoking?

Sorry.

– Good day?

Yeah.

– You?

Yeah, it was good.

[Sean] We should talk about a civil case, Martha.

We gotta finish this.

You know, I’ve come back from death before. Dark, cold.

Really dark, really cold.

And now she’s in the dark and the cold and I can’t do anything about it.

My hands are sort of tied here.

Please, Martha.

I’m not your mother.

I’m your partner, yeah? It’s a team thing.

Can we please talk, Martha?

Martha?

Please come out.

[crying] I miss her.

I miss her. Please, Martha.

I’m sorry. I just need you to promise me you won’t…

You can’t send her anywhere.

Please.

Promise me.

I promise.

[indistinct chatter]

[Elizabeth] Sean told me I might find you here.

He’s beside himself.

You two best friends now?

[Elizabeth] Well, there are things we agree on.

Does he have a choice in that?

Martha, wait a minute. Martha, please.

I’m not trying to change your mind. I know I can’t do that.

I understand that you made up your mind to give your baby for medical research.

The only thing I’m asking of you is that when it’s all over…

that we get her back so we can bury her.

That’s all. That’s the right thing to do, honey.

Because you say it is? Yeah.

Do you really wanna put your little baby’s body on a mass grave

like an animal?

Oh, my God. [chuckles]

[Elizabeth] That’s funny to you?

Yeah. So cheap.

– [Elizabeth] Martha.

Mm-hmm.

Thank you for waiting.

Okay.

There you go. Sign here.

Yep.

And a signature here as well.

There’s one more at the bottom as well.

[keypad beeping]

[door buzzes open]

[Sean] Hello. Looking for Suzanne Weiss.

[woman] Yes, go straight down to your left.

Thank you.

[indistinct chatter]

– [Suzanne] And who’s this?

[receptionist] Your 5:30.

Oh. Hey.

– [Sean] Hi. Hey.

Hi.

I’m Sean.

– Yeah, Carson, right?

Carson, yeah. Elizabeth.

– Uh-huh.

Yeah.

Uh, you wanna come in?

– Yeah.

Okay.

– [Sean] Am I catching you at a good time?

Huh?

Oh. I forgot my paperwork. I’ll be right back.

– Yeah, you know, we’re related.

Yeah, I guess we are.

Strange.

[indistinct chatter]

[children giggling, chattering]

[Sean] Why are you trying to disappear my kid?

We don’t need this room, so…

Because we don’t have a kid.

– Why are you being so cold to me?

Cold?

[Sean] Yeah.

I’m cold?

– [Sean] You’re cold.

Right.

Well… [chuckles]

you’re the one teaming up with my mother behind my back, so…

Can you please leave that alone?

– Martha, I wanna put it back up.

Mm-hmm.

Can you give me the picture?

[glass shatters]

[Martha sighs] Stop it.

Fuck.

How’s your hand?

[footsteps approaching]

You don’t want this apple?

Huh?

It’s brown.

– Yeah, I don’t want it.

Okay.

What are you thinking about?

[Martha] Huh?

[Sean] Penny for your thoughts.

[Martha] I’m just thinking about my hand.

– [Sean] How is it?

[Martha] Fine.

Yeah, I’m thinking about going to Seattle for a little while.

– [Martha] Seattle?

Yeah.

Like a road trip. You could come with me. We could…

– We could road trip.

Mm.

We could get a cheap little… a little beater on some land,

and I got friends out there that’d help me renovate.

It’d be good for us, Martha.

It’d be so good for us. Good for you, good for me, good change of scenery.

I mean…

[Martha] Mm…

[Sean] Come on, let’s go.

I think we should go.

I miss you.

– Touch me.

Come on!

– Touch me.

Sean. Ow!

I miss you.

It’s okay.

[Martha moans]

[Sean whispers] Touch me.

Touch me. Touch me.

[Martha groans] Okay…

[Sean] Take this off.

The clip at the back.

[clattering]

Sean! Don’t rip it like that. Just…

– Take it off.

You’re gonna…

[both moaning]

Sean. Would you just let me take them…

Let me take them off!

– [Sean] Come here.

[Martha] Come on!

Stop it!

Listen to me.

I’ll take them off if you just give me a second.

Fuck, man!

Here. Sorry. Let me just… One second.

Fuck it. I don’t want to now.

[pants jangling]

[sobbing]

[muttering indistinctly]

[screams]

[Sean] Hey, Chris. Hey, man. Um…

Oh, man, I’m so sorry.

[Sean] Yeah, it’s all right… No, wait…

I literally have no idea. I can’t even imagine what’s…

[Sean] Yeah. Hey, I need you to…

I need you to switch the car out for me. And give me the money for the car.

And then you sell it after.

– Yeah? – I can help you sell it.

It’ll take a couple of months, but…

No, I need it now. I’m sort of underwater now.

My hands are tied.

As soon as that car goes out, I can’t do anything.

But I haven’t driven it for six months. It’s just sort of the same car.

– I get it… – Chris, I need it.

My boss totally… Okay.

[Sean] I need you to do it now, man.

– [Chris] All right. – [Sean] Sorry.

[Chris clears throat] Well, there is… I could make it if it…

Is the car dangerous?

Is there… Is it… Is there a problem…

– [Sean] If the car’s dangerous… – Then I can take it back.

[Sean] How do we make that happen?

If there was an accident, I can figure out a way to make it work.

– Let’s do that. – Okay.

[jazz music playing softly]

[man] Looking for something about sprouting?

Mm-hmm.

I’ve got a better book than that.

Try this.

No, this one. Yeah.

– Thank you. – [man] You’re welcome.

[jazz music continues]

[Martha sighs]

[humming]

[hums]

[doorbell rings]

[doorbell rings]

Hi.

[Anita] We’ve gotta talk about Mom’s condition.

She’s aged five years in three months. She almost burned the house down.

Is it my fault?

It doesn’t help that you don’t answer the phone

when she calls to say the house is on fire.

So she sent you to meet me, right?

I don’t know why you guys do this through me.

Every time she calls, I’m in a meeting…

– I thought you quit. – [Martha] What?

– Chris said you quit. – I haven’t spoken to Chris.

Sean spoke to Chris when he returned the car.

[Martha] What?

Um…

This is yours. And…

– [Martha] That’s not mine. – [Anita] It was in the car.

Also found a roll of film.

– I got these printed for you. – Oh.

I’ve gotta go. I got a work thing. Bye.

– I love you. – Love you.

[Sean clears throat]

[exhales]

You know, I wouldn’t worry about it.

People wanna kill this woman. With the mistake she’s made,

the case is practically won with two to eight years imprisonment.

The gross negligence on not calling an ambulance in time to a dying baby

should be enough to put her away.

All right.

[Suzanne] And as your criminal lawyer, with your testimony,

we have this case in the bag.

If you guys decide to slap her with a civil case as well,

I can get someone to handle that, someone that I trust.

I feel like you got a good shot at winning both.

And you could win millions.

You know about this bridge?

Huh?

This bridge you got on the wall.

– No. – There’s a big story behind this bridge.

[Suzanne] Uh-huh.

In the ’40s, this thing just disintegrates into the floor.

It’s a big deal. It’s the third biggest bridge in the US.

You got the Golden Gate, George Washington and then you got the Tacoma.

In the ’40s, things collapse and they can’t figure it out

and they bring in these experts.

Mathematicians, scientists, nobody could figure it out.

Took a look at foundations, suspension wire, nothing.

Everything checks out.

Then finally, one of these scientists says “resonance.”

What?

– [Sean] Resonance. You know what that is? – [zips coat]

– No. – [Sean] Resonance is, um…

You know, every solid object has its own vibration.

When the outer one matches the inner one, you get resonance.

Sometimes, resonance can be so powerful, it can bring a whole bridge down.

[sniffs]

[exhales and sniffles]

– Does it happen often? – No, like, um…

Like when swings move by themselves at the playground?

That’s resonance. Thank you.

For everything.

– Here to help. – Yeah.

[door closes]

[indie pop music playing]

♪ Talk about the ways to go ♪

♪ All the things we dream about ♪

♪ In the night and every day ♪

♪ All the plans we have to make ♪

♪ In the night, in the night ♪

♪ I think you read my mind ♪

♪ You read my mind but did you know ♪

♪ I think you read my mind ♪

♪ We must have made a new record ♪

♪ I think you read my mind ♪

– ♪ That’s what we said ♪ – ♪ I think you read my mind ♪

♪ Gave it all we could We always knew we would ♪

♪ We went Down, down, down, down, down ♪

♪ Down, down, down into trouble ♪

♪ We went down, down, down, down, down ♪

♪ Down, down, down into trouble ♪

[song fades]

[jazz piano playing]

I should go.

Yeah, I’ll call us a cab.

– I’ll call us a cab right now. – No, I need to go. I’m sorry.

Shit. Piece of shit.

Hi, can I go to Christie Street, please? Now. Like, right now. Thank you.

[door opens]

You have a good party?

– [Martha] Yeah, it was. – Yeah?

Where were you?

– You’ve been drilling? – Yeah.

[Martha] I talked to Robert and he hasn’t seen you in three weeks.

So, drilling what?

You don’t have to lie to me.

Hmm?

[Sean grunts] You lied to me.

You’re a fucking liar.

– Fucking bitch. – [grunts]

You’re a fucking bitch, and you’re a liar.

You’re a cheap-ass liar. You’re a fucking clown.

You’re a clown. You’re a clown and you’re a liar, bitch.

[sizzling]

[air hissing]

– [Anita] Hey! – [Chris] Sorry.

– [Anita] What the fuck, Chris? – [Chris] Sorry about that.

– You forgot me? – Sorry. It’s slippery, watch out.

[car alert chirps]

[Anita] Just, like, excited to get into my mom’s house?

You were, like, running in. Okay.

[doorbell rings]

[doorbell rings]

[Anita] Is that my cousin?

[Chris] Oh, no way.

– [Anita] Hi. – Hey.

– [Anita] What are you doing here? – [Chris] It’s like a million years.

– Hey. Yeah. – [Chris] Incredible.

Your mom asked me to… Come on in.

– Uh, she’s in the kitchen. – [Chris] All right.

Hello. Oh, wow, yes. Duck.

– Yeah. – [Chris] Looks amazing.

Wow! Uh, you want me to baste?

– Oh, are you good at basting? – [chuckling] Yeah, I can baste.

– Here. Thank you. – [Suzanne] Thanks. I’ll use this one.

[Chris] Need help with the salad at all?

Yeah, that would be great.

– Make your salad. Don’t eat it. Make it. – Okay. It’s fresh, though.

Yes, it is fresh.

[Chris] You chop these? Thick? Thin? Any preference?

– Uh, not too thick. – [Chris] Okay.

But not too thin.

– Hi, honey. – [kisses]

– How you doing? – Good. Where’s Martha?

Um, she’ll be along.

Alone?

I don’t know.

Back in?

Are you done already?

– Good. – [softly] You planning something?

What? No, nothing.

– You’re planning something. – What?

You’re planning something.

Oh, I invited Suzanne over, just for some legal advice.

– [clattering] – [Anita] For what?

– Oh, you found my keys! – Guess so.

It was just in the bowl, which is funny.

[Suzanne] Anything else?

– Um… No, not right now. – [Chris] You okay?

– Yeah? – [Suzanne] You need a drink?

Cup of tea? Here.

[Elizabeth] No, I’m good, thank you.

– [Sean] There she is. Liz. – [Elizabeth] No, don’t call me that.

– [Chris] Hey, how you doing? – [Elizabeth] Hello, darling.

– [Sean] ‘Sup? Hey. – [Martha] These are for you.

– It’s a sun rose, I think. – [Elizabeth] How beautiful.

– Chrysanthemums! – [Martha] Oh.

I got you this, it’s a…

– [Elizabeth] This is for me? – It lights up, they said.

– [Sean] How can I help? – [Elizabeth] Oh, wonderful.

– [Chris] Whoa! – [Anita] Oh.

[Chris] Hey, watch the foot, man.

[Sean] Oh.

[Chris] When did that happen?

[Sean] Probably just now walking in. I’ll clean.

[Anita] He stepped in his own shit?

[Elizabeth] Come in the living room. Doesn’t it look nice?

– [Martha] Hi. – [Suzanne] Hi.

– [Martha] Yeah, looks nice. Hi. – [Suzanne] How you doing?

Nice to see you. You too, Chris.

– I’ve been staging. – [Chris] Looks great.

– Do you know what that is? – [Chris] Not really, no.

Okay. I’m gonna demonstrate. So, you see this chair all by itself?

– [Suzanne] Yeah. – It looks kinda lonely and sad, right?

So then, I find a colorful and cheerful cushion.

Put it there. And right away, you see, instant beauty.

[Chris] Yeah. You wanna sit down?

– You see it? – [Chris] Yeah. Wanna sit down?

I’ve been staging all over town.

Not for money. Just like a hobby. You know, for my friends.

– [Anita] Why don’t I go set the table? – Okay.

– [Martha] So… – [Elizabeth] Martha?

– Do you wanna borrow a brush? – A brush? No.

No? Okay. And your outfit’s adorable.

Not as dressy as I thought you’d be for the occasion.

Occasion?

– [Sean] Chris, you got a drink? – [Elizabeth] I’m gonna put this in water.

[Chris] Uh…

– Make a little toast. – [Sean] All right.

– [Chris] To you guys. – [Suzanne] A toast?

To getting out of the house.

– Making yourselves… – [Sean] I know. Cheers.

– Put yourself out there. Feel better. – Sean.

Hey. Yeah, Suzanne.

– [Sean] Cousin? – Uh-huh.

– [Sean] Yeah. Nice to meet you. – Yeah, you too.

[Chris] The other day, the uh, the guy at the church was saying something…

– [Sean] The guy? The pastor? – The pastor.

He was doing, like, a sermon.

And he said, uh…

something pretty deep.

– He said, “Time heals all wounds.” – [Sean] Whoa.

And I was like, “Yeah.”

“That’s pretty good.”

[Sean] What are you doing with your time? You still playing?

[Chris] Uh, no, it’s been a while. Uh, I’m just working.

The only type of playing I do is if they pay me over there, so…

– [Sean] At the church? – [Chris] Yep.

– Well, that’s exciting. – [Chris chuckles]

– Different scene, that’s for sure. – Different scene.

[Chris] Worshipers.

Yeah. Oh, you get that. Better than a groupie.

– Kinda the same thing. – [Chris] That’s true.

– [Sean] It was a good band, man. – [Chris] Thank you.

[Sean] Good time to be in a band.

[Chris] It was.

– [Sean] That whole grunge revival scene. – [Chris] Oh, man.

It’s crazy. When you had the White Stripes, right?

– [Sean] Stripes were there. Who else? – [Chris] Mm-hmm. They had the Hives.

[Sean] Hives, Strokes, Beck.

Nah, Beck is different. He’s softer. You guys had a grit. Harder.

[Chris] Um, what was it the Stripes did?

– [Sean] You need help? – [Chris] Stripes were like, um…

[Anita] Huh?

– [Sean] Help? – [Anita] No. I just had another glass.

What was it? They were brother…

They were husband… They were brother…

They were pretending to be brother and sister,

or to be husband and wife.

– [Sean] Stripes? – Stripes, yes.

[Sean] There was this thing.

– Who are they? – Smart.

– [Sean] The White Stripes? – Are they a band?

[Chris] You’re funny.

– [Sean] You don’t know the White Stripes? – [Suzanne] No.

– [Sean] Really? – [Chris] This is…

– [Suzanne] No. The White Stripes? – [Chris] This is insane.

[Sean] Come on, 2001, 2002, were you living under a rock?

[Chris] They did a Coke commercial. “Seven Nation Army.”

– [Sean] That fucking song, boy. – [Chris] Yeah.

[Sean and Chris singing “Seven Nation Army” indistinctly]

– [Suzanne] Yeah, I know that song. – [Sean] Yeah.

– [Suzanne] They play it at the… – [Chris] Yes.

[Sean] So, the story with them goes, there’s a two-person band.

– [Chris] Uh-huh. – Boy and a girl. Boy’s name is Jack White.

– Girl’s name is, uh… – [Martha] Meg.

Meg. And they’re in a band, but their band is, uh…

They’re in a marriage…

They’re in a marriage, they’re telling people they’re brother and sister.

They’re actually married, falling apart in front of the world.

[Chris] So, like Sonny and Cher.

It’s like, you look at them, and everybody’s like, “Oh, my God.”

“Are they fighting?” They’re not listening to the music.

– You’re into the gossip. – [Chris] Exactly.

Not into the music.

If you’re watching a couple play music,

you’re not thinking, “What’s up with the song, this instrumentation?”

You’re thinking, “Are they fucking? Where’d they meet? Do they got kids?”

[Chris chuckles] It’s terrible.

You look at Donny and Marie. Opposite.

[Sean] Yeah, but their music sucked, so you didn’t care either way.

[Chris] But you didn’t wanna think about anything happening.

It’s true. If they sucked and they were brother…

– Yes, so my point. – [Chris chuckles]

Hey, so what happened with your band?

[Chris] Uh, I don’t know. So stupid.

Everybody kind of grew up and moved on.

[soft music playing]

[Sean] To different bands or different sounds?

[Chris] No. It’s just…

It’s like, “Okay. Great. You go be a dad. You don’t have time for this.”

– Looking at me like I’m a child. – [Sean] Rest of the band?

[Chris] Yeah. I mean, the way he talked to me, I didn’t like that.

[Sean] Well, he was older than you.

[Chris] Yeah, but it was just so condescending.

Like, “I’m so much better than you because I have kids.”

Yeah, that wouldn’t be right.

[Chris] Right. It’s like, “What does it matter?”

– It doesn’t change your life. – [Martha] No, to go do that.

When you’re young like that, on the verge of breaking through.

– [Martha] No. Makes total sense. – [Chris] What’s that tone?

I don’t understand.

– What’s going on? – [Martha] What tone?

– Martha, we’re just talking. – [Martha] What? I was agreeing with him.

[Sean] Yeah, we’re agreeing also. Everybody’s agreeing.

– So what’s the problem? – [Martha] The problem?

Don’t give him a hard time. We’re just talking.

[Sean] We’re just trying to keep it light.

[Martha] Right. Light.

Yes. I am…

Okay, okay, okay.

I am sorry. I did not put that together.

– “Baby,” I didn’t know. – [Martha sighs] Oh, my God.

What are we even doing here? This is completely nuts. What the fuck?

[Elizabeth] Well, as long as you’re asking.

Um,

Suzanne… I’ve consulted with her about the…

– [Martha] About what? – About the case.

[Martha] You’re the prosecutor on the case?

– Yeah. – Yes. She’s an excellent lawyer.

And she’s family, you know?

She loves us. She’s here to make sure we get the right thing.

Look, the case is already won. People hate this woman. So, I’ll just…

Yes, exactly. And I don’t want them to judge you.

– [Martha] “Them”? – The people.

[Martha scoffs] “People.” By “people,” you mean Judith?

– [Chris] I really… – Fuck off, Chris.

If you’re talking about her, I went to a store to get an apple.

Twenty minutes later, I’m in the same store

getting the same apple.

I know because I met him late. How late, 25 minutes?

I spent a minute getting an apple.

The rest of the time, I spent there stuck, stranded, getting grilled by your friend,

trying to figure out what the fuck she wants from me.

And you’re worried about them judging me?

[Elizabeth] Martha.

[Martha] It’s not even about them judging me, actually.

It’s about how you want me to be to fit their opinion.

You wanna arrange me.

– [Anita] You need therapy! – I do not need therapy. Thank you, Anita.

– [Anita] You do. Asshole. – All right.

Who cares about what they think? This is about me. This is about my body.

This is me. Do you understand that?

Yes, I understand that, dear.

But have you decided to go to the trial?

– I’m not going to your fucking trial. – [Elizabeth] Why not, honey?

She has to pay for her incompetence.

– Is this about money? – [Elizabeth] No!

Is it about what people think?

It’s about you.

It’s about you having to face this thing…

I am facing this! I am facing it! I am facing this!

Well, I don’t think you are.

We need… we need some justice here.

No, you need. That is what you want. That is what you need. That is your way!

[loudly] That is not my way! That is what you need!

[Elizabeth] Martha, if you had done it my way,

you’d be holding your baby in your arms right now.

[gasps]

You know what? You…

You’re ashamed.

You’re so ashamed of me.

You’re ashamed because I failed. “Oh, what a disgrace!”

“What a disgrace!”

I failed!

– [Elizabeth] Yes. – You’re fucking ashamed.

And I’m ashamed of me.

That I wasn’t a good enough mother

to teach you how to stand up and speak for yourself, for God’s sakes.

And to deal with this. Like my mother taught me.

After my father went into the ghetto, my mother found a shack, an empty shack,

that she went into and gave birth to me.

Without any help at all.

She stashed me under the floorboards when she had to go out and steal food

so she could make milk enough to keep me alive,

but just alive.

Not strong enough to cry, or we’d be caught.

When she finally got me to a doctor, he advised her to just let me go.

That I wasn’t…

I wasn’t strong enough to survive.

But when she absolutely insisted,

he picked me up by my feet and held me up like a chicken and said,

“If she tries to lift her head,

then there’s hope.”

And you know what I did, Martha?

I lifted my head.

That’s what I’m asking you to do now.

Lift your head and fight for yourself, for God’s sakes!

Go out there and face that woman.

Tell her what it’s like for you now, what this feels like.

You have to do this, Martha. You have to speak your truth.

Otherwise, you’re never gonna be able to deal with this.

You’re never gonna be able to move on.

You’ve got to move on past this, Martha.

[Martha whispers] Stop it. Stop it.

[gasps]

[hesitates]

[Sean] Maybe I’ll go make some tea. I know my dad always makes tea when…

When his daughters loathe him?

I think Martha’s starting over.

Good. I’m sorry. I…

I never liked you.

– And it’s not because you’re poor. – No, it’s ’cause I’m, um…

‘Cause I’m not an intellectual, and I’m not… I don’t use big words.

And ’cause I’m rough and I’m…

Well, here’s a Scrabbleword. ‘Cause I’m boorish.

[chuckles] Ooh.

[laughs]

What do you want?

What do I want? I want to…

I probably want to go home.

Yeah, that’s what I want the most.

And why don’t you?

We don’t all live like this, you know.

[chuckles softly]

Take it and…

don’t come back.

Just tell Martha… Tell her anything you want.

Tell her your father’s sick or you fell in love with somebody else.

I don’t care what.

But just make sure she knows you are never coming back.

[chuckles softly]

[door opens]

– Found a little party pooper here. – Huh?

– Party pooper. – [chuckles] Oh.

Right.

Uh,

I just wanted to say that I didn’t know

that she didn’t tell you I was gonna be here.

Oh, that’s all right.

You a cat or a dog person?

– Cat person. – [Sean] Yeah?

Mm-hmm.

I’m a cat person too.

– Bullshit. – [Sean laughs]

You know what a cat’s favorite breakfast food is?

– [Suzanne] What? – Mice Krispies.

[both chuckle]

You are far too entertained by that.

I wish we’d met earlier, you know.

[Sean sighs]

Yeah, same.

[Sean] You ever been to Seattle?

– [Suzanne] No. You? – Yeah.

I’m headed up there now.

It’s nice there.

Yeah, I’ll bet.

[airplane flying overhead]

[crowd clamoring]

[reporter] The manslaughter trial

of former midwife and passionate home-birth advocate,

Eva Woodward, is wrapping up in court today.

The 45-year-old is charged with the home-birth death of a baby.

[security machine beeps]

[clamoring continues]

Okay, good. Thank you.

Well, she could have told… Just give me one second. Hey, Martha.

Thank you for agreeing to this.

I can assure you she will serve time in prison.

– It should be a walk in the park. – I know.

[indistinct chatter]

[clerk] All rise.

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye.

All persons having anything to do before the Honorable Judge Spencer,

now sitting in the County of Suffolk, the justices of this court, draw near.

Give your attention, and you shall be heard.

God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The court is open. You may be seated.

[Judge Spencer] Yesterday, we heard opening arguments

onState versus Eva Woodward.

Prosecution through the district attorney carries the burden of proof.

Therefore, the prosecution will go first.

You may call your first witness.

[Suzanne] Your Honor, the Commonwealth calls Martha Weiss.

[Judge Spencer] Ms. Weiss, please come forward and be sworn in by the clerk.

Stand there, please.

Raise your right hand.

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

– [Martha] I do. – Please state your name.

Martha Weiss.

– [Suzanne] May I, Your Honor? – [Judge Spencer] Please.

Could you please tell the court

how the defendant came to be the midwife for the delivery of your baby?

She was standing in for our original midwife

who couldn’t make it to the house in time.

[Suzanne] But you weren’t happy when you heard she was going to be coming

instead of your chosen midwife, Barbara.

I didn’t know her, but I thought it would be fine.

[Suzanne] You trusted her to safely deliver your baby.

– I did, yes. – [Suzanne] May I ask why you trusted her?

Because, um, Barbara did and because she was qualified, I guess.

[Suzanne] During the labor, Ms. Woodward was taking the baby’s heart rate

to see if the baby was okay and that she could handle the labor?

Yes.

[Suzanne] The first time she checked the baby’s heart rate, it was strong, yes?

Yes, it was.

[Suzanne] How many times did she check the heart rate?

About three, I would say.

– [Suzanne] Three times? – Yes.

– [Suzanne] That’s all? Only three times? – Yes.

[Suzanne] And then she told you to take a bath.

Yes.

[Suzanne] Did she take the baby’s heart rate while in the bath?

– [Martha] No. – [Suzanne] So, let me get this straight.

There’s a sustained period of time while you were in the bath

where the baby’s heart rate was not being monitored.

[Martha] Yes.

[Suzanne] Did she ever communicate to you explicitly that a lowered heart rate

could mean that the baby was in distress and that this could cause her death?

She didn’t say that to me.

If you knew about the risk, would you have demanded to go to the hospital?

Of course I would have wanted to know that.

– Would you ever willingly harm your baby? – Of course not.

[Suzanne] No. So if in one of the most difficult moments of your life,

during a difficult labor,

the woman who you’ve decided to put your trust in,

who’s been present at hundreds of births, has far more experience than you do,

turns to you and says, “You must go to the hospital right now,”

would you have gone in? Yes or no?

Yes, I would have.

No further questions, Your Honor.

Mr. Lane, cross-examine?

[Lane] Thank you, Your Honor.

First, may I say how deeply sorry I am for your loss?

Thank you.

[Lane] May I ask you why you decided on a home birth?

I wanted the baby to decide when she wanted to come.

Would it be fair to say you were absolutely determined

to have a home birth, that you had your heart set on it?

– [Martha] Yes. – [Lane] And your partner agreed with you?

We agreed to do it together. Yes.

And you both knew if there was a problem,

you may have to go to the hospital to deliver the baby. Is that true?

Of course, yes.

[Lane] Because at a hospital, you knew that should a problem arise,

– that there was equipment… – Yes, I knew that.

– There was expertise in a crisis… – Yes.

And yet, when complications did arrive,

and your midwife suggested you may consider going to the hospital

because of a heart arrhythmia, you decided to stay at the house.

Yes, but she didn’t say that to me. No.

[Lane] Let me ask this. You said earlier you trust your midwife. Is that right?

I did.

[Lane] Yes. And do you trust your husband?

– My partner?

[Lane] Yes.

Yes, I do… did.

[Lane] Because your partner has given testimony

that your midwife strongly advised you should go to the hospital.

You say you’re working together as a team.

And when your partner asked you to go to the hospital, you refused to go.

Is that correct?

Is that correct?

I wanted to stay at home myself.

[Lane] And you actively and adamantly stated that to your husband

that you didn’t want to go to the hospital?

[Martha] I did. Yes.

[Lane] The few moments after your baby was born,

was her breathing disturbed

or was there anything to indicate her condition was poor?

– No, not at…

[Lane] Did you hear her cry?

– Yes, a bit.

Did you hold her?

– Yes, I held…

[Lane] Was her body warm or cold?

I can’t remember that.

You can’t remember that? Did you notice anything strange?

Did you notice that her feet were turning blue and purple?

– I didn’t look at her feet.

Did you look at her hands?

No.

You didn’t look at her feet or her hands. Did you notice the color of her eyes?

Did you notice whether she had blonde hair,

dark hair, lots of hair, no hair?

Yes, she…

– [Lane] Pardon me?

It was dark. Yes.

[Lane] Her hair was dark. Yes.

Did you notice anything else?

That her fingers were long? Or her toes… Did she have ten fingers…

– I said I looked at her face.

[Lane] You looked at her face.

Yes.

What did you feel when you were holding your baby?

How did I feel?

[Lane] Yes, how did you feel holding your baby you had just given birth to?

She smelled like an apple. [chuckles softly]

– She smelled like an apple.

[Martha] Mm-hmm.

“What did she feel?” was the question. Did she feel like a healthy baby?

She did. Yes.

[Lane softly] Yes.

[sighs] If your baby had died because of something like SIDS…

[Suzanne] Objection, Your Honor.

SIDS has not been established as a definite cause of death.

Let the jury decide, not the witness.

I would like to hear the witness’s testimony as to her state of mind.

If you feel you can answer the question, I would like you to.

[sniffles] Can I have a break? Just one minute?

Mr. Lane?

I have no further questions, Your Honor.

[Judge Spencer] Then this court will be in recess till this afternoon.

– Thank you.

The trial will continue after the break.

[clerk] All rise.

[man] Can I help you?

Um, do you have any photos here under the name of Weiss?

[man] Weiss.

Weiss.

Um… Oh, yeah.

We prepared the negatives,

but we didn’t print any ’cause we never heard back.

– You wanna check them out?

Yes. Is that okay?

[man] Sure.

There you go.

– Can you print them right now?

[man] Sure.

It just takes a second.

I’ll be back in a minute.

[Martha breathing shakily]

[sniffles]

[whimpers]

[shakily] Oh, God.

Oh, God.

[breathing shakily]

[Lane] Your Honor, I’d like to submit additional documents indicating

certain inconsistencies that were presented earlier by the prosecution.

[door closes]

[Martha] Could I just have a word with the judge?

[clerk] Directly?

– [Martha] Yes.

[clerk] That’s not usually allowed.

– [Martha] I know. But do you mind asking?

I will ask him.

– Thank you.

Please wait here.

Judge, Miss Weiss would like to address the court.

That’s highly unusual, but I’d like to hear what she has to say.

Miss Weiss, you wish to address the court?

Yes, thank you.

This woman…

did not intentionally harm my girl.

She only wanted to deliver a healthy baby that night. [sobs]

And I do not think it is your fault.

I do not think it is her fault.

And thank you.

There might be a reason for what happened, but we are not gonna find it in this room.

And if I stand here and ask for compensation or money,

then I am…

I’m saying that I can be compensated, and I can’t.

I can’t bring her back.

No money or verdicts or sentences can…

can bring back what…

How can I give this pain to someone else?

Someone who’s already suffered?

And I know she would not want that.

At all.

That is not why my daughter came into this world

for the time that she did.

[laughs, gasps]

And that is all I have to say. Thank you.

[crying]

– Thank you, Miss Weiss.

[clerk] All rise.

[birds chirping]

[Anita] Base panel.

And he looked in and I was like, “What? It was from a cartoon.”

I remember ’cause it was like a neon green.

– Yeah, do you remember this, Mom?

Thank you.

But we didn’t order that.

Yes, you did, Mom.

I did?

[Anita] Mom, it’s lemon poppy. You love it.

Lemon poppy? I don’t love lemon poppy.

– Oh, my God, um…

No.

[Elizabeth] No?

– Okay.

Jerry Thompson.

[Anita] Jerry Thompson.

– [Martha] That was it.

[Anita] Yeah.

– Yes.

[Anita] One year we went to that party.

It was like some older guy was throwing a party, and we snuck out.

– Sorry, now you know.[Elizabeth chuckles]

And we went as, like, two pieces of candy.

[Martha] Yes!

[Anita] No, you know what you’re thinking of,

’cause you made our Thanksgiving costumes.

What do you remember?

[birds chirping]

[Martha] Lucy!

Lucy!

Luce!

Lucianna!

Hey, baby.

It’s dinner.

Come down. Time to eat, bug.

[Lucianna] Okay.

[Martha grunts] There you are.

[Lucianna] I’m hungry. What’s for dinner?

[Martha] It’s your favorite.

[Lucianna] Popsicle?

[Martha] Mm-mm.

[Lucianna] Tacos?

[Martha] No.

[Lucianna] Jelly sandwich?

[Martha] Definitely not.

– [Lucianna] Popcorn?Mm-mm.

[Lucianna] Then I’m not hungry.

[Martha] You wanna run in?

 


 

Plot

Martha Weiss and Sean Carson are a Boston couple who are on the verge of becoming parents. Sean is a construction worker, while Martha is an executive. The couple meet up at a car dealership where Martha’s brother-in-law, Chris, works and Martha’s mother, Elizabeth, has bought them a minivan. Sean gifts Martha ultrasound pictures to hang in their nursery. Martha goes into labor that night. Sean calls their midwife, Barbara, but she is unavailable, so she sends a woman named Eva in her place. Martha struggles with nausea, anxiety, and pain during labor.

When Martha reaches ten centimeters, the midwife moves her into the bedroom in order to give birth. As Martha pushes, Eva realizes the baby’s heart rate is dropping dangerously low during contractions. She informs a panicked Sean that they may need to go to the hospital and moves to call paramedics, Sean proceeds to ask her if they’re “good” to continue to which she says yes. Martha channels all of her strength to push the baby out and gives birth to her daughter. Eva notices the baby is turning blue and attempts to revive her, but she quickly goes into cardiac arrest, and dies.

The next month while shopping, Martha encounters a little girl and lactates through her shirt. At a grocery store, she encounters a friend of her mother’s, Judith, who hugs her and assures her that Eva will “rot in prison”. Sean and Martha attend an appointment with a coroner. Sean is eager to find out what went wrong, while Martha is reluctant. At the coroner’s, the couple learns that they have not established the cause of death, though they were able to determine that the baby was in a low-oxygen environment and have started proceedings against Eva. Sean leaves, overcome with emotion, while Martha remains and decides that she wants to donate the baby’s body to science.

Martha’s relationship with Sean continues to struggle as well as with her mother who wants to bury the baby and have a funeral. Two months later she is still deeply depressed. Sean and Martha fight over the baby’s room. Sean wants it maintained and Martha does not. Sean attempts to instigate sex but it does not work out and it becomes clear that he is also still deeply depressed.

The next month, Sean returns the minivan. He starts to have an affair with Martha’s cousin, Suzanne, and use cocaine after being sober for over six years. Suzanne informs him that a potential lawsuit against Eva could be very lucrative. Suzanne is also the attorney prosecuting Eva.

Elizabeth blames Martha for the baby’s death because she decided to have a home birth and tells her she has to attend Eva’s trial. Elizabeth then tells Sean she never liked him. She offers him money to leave and never return. Martha drops Sean off at the airport and he leaves for Seattle.

Months later, Martha testifies at Eva’s trial. Afterwards, she picks up pictures of her holding her daughter and goes back to the trial. The judge allows her to address the court, in which she states that Eva is not at fault for the death and she does not blame her. Back home, she discovers that apple seeds she started in her refrigerator have started to sprout. A month later Martha scatters her daughter’s ashes into the river. Years later, a little girl climbs an apple tree. Martha helps her down and the two go inside.

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