Monday, March 28, 2011

Mildred Pierce

I liked it. Kate Winslet was all we'd hoped for as was Melissa Leo. The two child actors stunned me. The death of the little girl moved me; made me pause to think about mortality in general. She was such a sweetie.

All that said there were elements that I didn't care for. First and foremost being the male roles. Would she really have given herself so quickly to the little rat-bastard who was once her husband's dishonest business partner? And the handsome dashing playboy is pure stereotype. I was surprised we didn't have a polo scene. To me he's as off-putting as the business partner, a poseur out of a bad Christie novel.

While I also had problems with the Joan Crawford version, Jack Carson as the business partner and Zachary Scott as the wealthy young man made dramatic sense. Their appeal to Mildred was obvious.

The testament to how bad the two new version men are can be found in Mildred's ex-husband. Yes, he left her for another woman but for all that I found him admirable, a man who genuinely loves his family and is generous enough to give them the house and (after some jousting) their only car. This is my kind of writing- the bad-good man.

One other difficulty I had with last night's two hour opener was the overall tone. There's a kind of filmic somberness that is really self-reverential. This is such an important movie we wouldn't dare just let go of it here and there just to see what happens. It's like going to High Mass with all the Pope-like hats on the heads of the priests.

As a blogger pointed out this morning, Mildred Pierce is especially relevant today because it is about the destruction of the middle class during the Depression (yes, the working poor was destroyed by it, too, of course but Cain focused on the white collar group). The one difference being that in those days respectable women didn't work outside the home. Mildred has to hide her job from her snotty daughter Veda, Today's Veda would be swell with her mom working as long as she got new clothes and a an iPad out of it.

I'm looking forward to the next installments.


pattinase (abbott) said...

It was pretty much exactly what was on the pages of the book, but that doesn't always translate perfectly. I think Kate is a bit too ethereal to play Mildred. She was a scrappy woman and although the words come out of her mouth, her eyes and body language feel off.
All the men in the book were louses but her husband was the least of the louses. I think Mildred created monsters. She made her daughter the way she was by offering her validation for her bad impulses. She lost respect for her husband when he couldn't support them so he turned to another woman. Ray was the only likable character to me. All of the rest had venal moments. But it's a great book.

Anonymous said...

Great review. I have the book somewhere around the house, probably in the overflow bedroom's rearmost bookcase.

Ed Lynskey

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