Mildred Pierce, HBO Miniseries

4 Apr

Mildred Pierce is a compelling tale of family dynamics, and HBO’s five part miniseries adaptation is impressively true to the book.

I run hot and cold with Kate Winslet.  I loved Eternal Sunshine, enjoyed Revolutionary Road, and have been disinterested in most of her other movies.  Mildred as a character has plenty of faults and petty qualities that are annoying, but Winslet folds seamlessly into the character, and all you see is Mildred.

Evan Rachel Wood plays the older Veda (“younger Veda” is played by a different actress in the first three episodes).  Wood’s skill falls far short next to Winslet.  When Veda is played by the younger actress in the earlier episodes, I got wrapped up in the spoiled brat of a character.  When Wood steps in, her lack of talent, her over-pronunciation, and her unconvincing opera lip synch are distracting.  My feelings toward Veda, generally, is that I want to clock her.  When Wood is playing her, I am more interested in clocking Wood.

The miniseries does not provide a voice over for Mildred’s inner monologue, which in the book functions to drive a lot of the emotion.  The film does capture a fair amount of this, but there were some things that it just couldn’t capture (like her relief to still have Veda after the Moire tragedy).  It does a good job, though, of conveying pity for Mildred, who is working her hardest to get by and to keep the people around her happy, while the people she (misguidedly) loves most are dysfunctional self-centered lunatics.

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