Mildred Pierce

(2011)

Genres: Drama

Review: Mildred Pierce

Transcript for Review: Mildred Pierce

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
Thanks Roger. Our next film is the five-part made-for-HBO production MILDRED PIERCE, starring Kate Winslet in her finest performance. The story begins in Glendale, California in 1931, early in the Depression, where Mildred's husband has just walked out on her. As an unemployed mother of two with no real-world skills to speak of, Mildred can only find demeaning jobs.

EP 1, CLIP 4 / Mildred Terminates the Interview

IGNATIY:
Nothing Mildred does seems to please her ungrateful daughter, Veda, played as a child by Morgan Turner, and as an adult by Evan Rachel Wood.

EP 2, CLIP 5 / Mildred tells Veda she is a waitress.

IGNATIY:
In an effort to impress the girl, Mildred decides to open her own restaurant, selling chicken, waffles and pie.  Around the same time she meets the charming Monty Beragon played by Guy Pearce. 

EP 2, CLIP 3

IGNATIY:
Adapted from the novel by James M. Cain and spanning nine years, this well-observed, understated miniseries takes advantage of its longer running time not only to develop the character of Mildred, but also to invest the plot with a lot of sharp details about life during and after the Great Depression. It is the work of Todd Haynes, the director of FAR FROM HEAVEN, I'M NOT THERE and VELVET GOLDMINE. I’ve always found Haynes’ films to be reliant more on concepts than emotions. This isn’t true of MILDRED PIERCE, an emotionally affecting, subtly moving work, with Kate Winslet at her best.  Now, the last two parts are playing this weekend on HBO, but you can catch up will the entire series On Demand.

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
This is a huge achievement.  I love this and it is so gorgeous.  Now I watched the whole thing in one big sitting.  Five and a half hours of Mildred Pierce-palooza which is not how it was intended to be shown.  There are clear cliff hangers and the end of each, but to watch it all at one time is so deeply moving and Kate Winslet is so great in this, but everyone’s great in it.  I mean Guy Pearce is in a really complicated position in that he has to be seductive and sexy in the beginning, but he changes and becomes unlikable as you go along.  Melissa Leo as her next door neighbor, Mary Winningham as her best friend and businees partner…all of these great charater actors doing some of their best work.  Brian F. O’Byrne, longtime theater actor plays her husband.  Also evolves here and it’s gorgeous which you expect from Todd Haynes.

IGNATIY:
And it’s shot by his regular collaborator, Ed Lackman who’s a grat cinematographer.

CHRISTY:
It’s so beautiful and one weird little thing I have problem with. He shoots her a lot through windows whether through the passenger window of a car or through a restaurant window and it’s a bit alienating and I think he means…

IGNATIY:
I think it is intentional…

CHRISTY:
I think he means it to convey her isolation,but to us as an audience at times it can be a bit alienating, but it’s a very small nit-pick. 

IGNATIY:
Yeah, for me, my problem, a problem I do have with Haynes’ other films is that he always seems like a guy with a degree in semiotics from Brown first and a human being second that there are all of these you know…that the window expresses alienation, but there’s also a human element, an emotional element that is either lacking or has been really submerged.  I don’t think that’s true here.  Here I think there’s a moment where Brian F. O’Byrne, he and Kate Winslet are talking about getting a divorce, it’s in the second episode and he kind of lightly jabs her jaw…you know they’re joking and thinking maybe they should say that he beat her and that’s why they’ll say they’ll get the divorce.

CHRISTY:
Right, right. Yes.

IGNATIY:
And they both freeze and that moment for me, it seems like a turning point in Haynes’ work…

CHRISTY:
It’s too scary yeah…

IGNATIY:
Emotionally it’s really just wrenching and effective, this is a great, great project.

CHRISTY:
It is great.