Mildred Pierce (2011) HBO gives new relevance to this classic tale of a hardworking, single mother trying to support her family in the midst of the 1930's Depression, while still having a Love Life
. This five part miniseries stars Kate Winslet
(“Titanic,” “The Reader”) in the title role that won Joan Crawford
her Oscar. Director Todd Haynes
resists the melodrama in this updated version, which brings the gritty realities of crushing economic realities and painful family conflict to the forefront.
After throwing out her worthless husband, Mildred Pierce must find work to support her two young daughters. Though she first finds employment in traditional female occupations, housekeeper and waitress, Mildred’s ambitious streak drives her to transform her talent for baking into a restaurant empire. She’s an admirable breadwinner, but her musically talented daughter Veda (Evan Rachel Wood
) looks down on her for being a “peasant.” She finds love again, or at least erotic satisfaction with Monty (Guy Peace, “The King’s Speech”), but he’s a spoiled partier, not a partner. The conflict between Mildred’s business success and her role as woman, romantic and maternal, play out through this finely crafted adaptation of the James Cain noir novel.
In these modern recessionary times, Mildred Pierce remains a relevant character for our times. As usual, HBO brings high end production values, and has a remarkable supporting cast including recent Oscar winner Melissa Leo
(“The Fighter,” “Treme”) and Hope Davis
(“In Treatment”) for a satisfying story of survival and sacrifice, more suitable for mature audiences.