Netflix thriller Pieces Of Her takes forever to come together

Bella Heathcote and Toni Collette spend hours running in circles in a leaden Netflix adaptation of Karin Slaughter's 2018 novel

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      PIECES OF HER (Minkie Spiro). All eight episodes available to stream on Netflix Canada Friday (March 4).

      One of the most interesting things about the rise of streaming services—with their insatiable hunger for Bingeable Content and social-media dominance—has been the wave of shows that were clearly pitched as feature films, and retrofitted to six- or eight-episode series to suit the demands of the streamer.

      You can almost always tell: there are supporting characters that lift right out of the core narrative, multiple scenes of people driving to and from places where a movie would simply show them arriving, and flashbacks that pad out the running time while teasing out information that could easily have been relayed in a couple of lines of dialogue. Some shows make it feel organic to the story that’s unfolding; others, like Pieces Of Her, just don’t care.

      An adaptation of the 2018 novel by Karin Slaughter, it stars Bella Heathcote as Andy Oliver, a 911 call-centre dispatcher in a sleepy Georgia town where nothing ever happens. But when a violent incident lands Andy’s mother Laura (Toni Collette) in the hospital and splashes both their faces all over the media, Andy’s life is up-ended by the revelation that her mother is not who she believed her to be—and both their lives are in danger, sending Andy on the run and while Laura tries to negotiate with the enemies she made in her past.

      It’s a solid premise, and both Collette and Heathcote are always reliably entertaining—when they’re given something to do, which is not the case here. Pieces Of Her looks and sounds like quality television: it’s been produced with some intelligence, and it’s filled with interesting actors like Jessica Barden, Omari Hardwick, and Terry O’Quinn.

      But for a show where people die violent deaths on a regular basis, it’s incredibly dull, with Heathcote’s miserable Andy sleepwalking through her investigation, while Collette’s barbed Laura couches everything she does in cryptic ambiguity in order to keep viewers hitting the “next episode” button. Despite the talent assembled, the story just isn’t that interesting—and the execution is mediocre at best.

      It might have worked as a movie, with a faster pace and fewer scenes of people driving around looking concerned. But as an eight-episode, seven-hour experience, Pieces Of Her simply isn’t worth your time.