Mildred Pierce (‘11)
Since 1941, the Mildred Pierce brand continues to prove that in the pursuit of the American Dream, children will forever be both the pride and
bane of our existence. This mini-series hews closer to the source novel in charting Mildred’s rise from downtrodden divorcee to Glendale entrepreneur, and foregoes the whole murder mystery angle of Michael Curtiz’s ’45 version. So those folks expecting more shadowy intrigue and coldblooded murder might be disappointed. It’s not hardboiled noir, just a pure period drama and gorgeously designed at that. Being made in Boardwalk Empire’s bailiwick doesn’t hurt, since HBO spares no expense. Sans melodramatic whodunit, the story is ultimately about the consequences of bad parenting and the neurotic need of some parents just to be needed
, the ultimate tragedy of Mildred’s character, someone as ambitious as she is naïve to those who constantly use her to their own ends. The strength of the series comes from Mildred’s relationships with her rich flighty boyfriend Monty (Guy Pearce, awesome as always in a renaissance moment for his career over the past year), and spoiled, ungrateful daughter Veda (Morgan Turner in Parts 1 to 3, Evan Rachel Wood in Parts 4 and 5), who only gets more despicable as the series rolls on. One of the most detestable characters to grace the big or small screen in a long time. You just wanna strangle the snotty voice from her lungs by the end, so I’m not sure if I should love Turner and Wood’s overly dramatic performances or hate them, despite being the essence of that character. Todd Haynes gets no points for crafting anything close to an "exciting" story, but he still succeeds in the end with a satisfying, bittersweet taste of vintage Americana, held together by a slew of fantastic performances led by Kate Winslet.