Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oh Mother.

The best thing about watching Mildred Pierce was of course Kate Winslet. Who cares if her affectedness at first resembled Olivia de Havilland doing a Joan Crawford impression? By the second hour of the miniseries she had made this woman her own.
I read somewhere that Winslet had a perfect face for suffering (she also has a perfect face for sex/love scenes but that's for another day...) and as each minute of the series went by, I couldn't help but wholeheartedly agree with this thought.
Of course, I love Kate and I resented how much the actresses who played Veda Pierce made her suffer (Evan Rachel Wood I see you...) but Kate is such a dignified sufferer!
With that in mind, I give you my favorite ten "Mildred is in pain" moments. She truly should be eligible for martyrdom.

10. Mildred remembers her dead child (and in retrospect probably wishes she'd been alive and Veda gone for good)

9. Mildred discovers Veda is a ho.

8. Mildred discovers Veda hates her (for the umpteenth time! Sister truly has some sort of ADD when it comes to her demonic daughter)

7. Mildred discovers she's always chasing rainbows.

Speaking of which, did anyone else think that Evan Rachel Wood would make the perfect actress for whenever they make a biopic of Florence + the Machine?

6. Mildred rekindles with Veda. I loved how the hair department changed Kate's do and aged her effortlessly with a little more hair here and there. I don't think I've seen such flawless makeup and costume design in any movie in a very long time.

5. Mildred finds out why Veda loves Monty so much (this reaction scene alone should give Winslet the Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG this year).

I easily could've done a top ten featuring all the evil stares Veda gives Mildred, but I honestly have never hated a character more than I do her. The very idea of what she represents makes me want to call Wood's character from True Blood so she will kidnap Veda and turn her into her eternal slave.

4. Mildred finds her voice by going all Ursula on Veda's ass. If you haven't seen it I won't spoil it.
Yet again, if you haven't seen it, what the hell are you waiting for?

3. "To hell with her".
'Nuff said.

2. This was inarguably my favorite shot in the entire miniseries. For starters I had no idea Todd Haynes shot such great sex scenes. Most of his films are so asexual, even Velvet Goldmine's extravagant orgies and Poison's homoeroticism feel too much like Jarman-esque aesthetic experiments done for the sake of art. The love scenes between Mildred and Monty though are astonishingly hot!
This list is about Mildred suffering and you might be wondering what the hell does this have to do with any pain. Well, I'll pull out the snob card and resort to Hermann Hesse, who in one of my favorite books said that, and I'm paraphrasing, the facial expressions achieved during orgasm are only similar to those made by someone on the instants before their death.
In this particular scene, Mildred's surrender to Monty's voraciousness kills her. She never goes back from this moment and everything spirals down for her. I love how Haynes and DP Ed Lachman shot this, so it seems that the two people have become one. This notion that Mildred can only beat Monty if she owns him (and therefore he becomes just a body whose head has been swallowed by her vagina) gives the whole series a fascinating subtext about the evolution and mishaps of feminism in the face of a mostly male world.
Isn't the whole point of the series that Mildred fails as a woman because she can not fulfill her role of mother and wife?

1. Winslet is magical in this scene where she listens to Veda's singing for the very first time. everything about her face is perfection and even if she borrows the hand gestures from the "Meryl Streep School of Gasping", she is extremely moving.
How she manages to display fear, tenderness, resentment, love and joy at the same time? Who knows. This scene makes a case for why Winslet is one of the finest actresses of all time.

What were your thoughts on Mildred Pierce? Do you think Winslet is the real deal?


Mikhael Tarigan said...

Oh gosh, I just finished watching the last 2 parts. I will never see Rachel Wood and Pearce the same way again. I was filled with so much hatred for their characters.

The best part was when Veda plays the piano and singing while choked up. That bitch.

The irony is Winslet excels playing a character who failsplaying her role as a mother especially.

M. Hufstader said...

If ever I doubted Winslet (and I didn't), this miniseries definitely highlights her awesomeness yet again. I like that you pointed out that she has a great face for pain--I didn't realize that, but she really does!

And I love the point you made about her sex scenes--one of the things I loved most about them was the fact that you could always see how much sex killed someone like Mildred Pierce. She was addicted to Monty, sure, but there was definitely something masochistic in the way they made love.

And I love Evan Rachel Wood, but Veda was major bitch. Great review!

Castor said...

Hahaha in all your screenshots, Kate Winslet is crying.

Jose said...

Mikhael: that bitch indeed! I wished Mildred would kill her! But fucking up her voice was second best. Winslet is magic in this.

M: her face is remarkable and did you notice how she allowed her wrinkles to come into play so much? That's what I call acting without vanity.

Castor: well yes, that's the whole point of this post...sounds to me like you haven't seen the miniseries, naughty boy!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Jose WHERE do you come up with things like this: and therefore he becomes just a body whose head has been swallowed by her vagina

but, yes Kate is fabulous. Yes, I still wish Leighton Meester was cast as Veda but otherwise I love the miniseries. And Kate...oh, Kate.

Jose said...

I don't know Andrew...hahaha. Is it a bad or good thing?
Ugh, Leighton would've been perfect but I'm glad she didn't do it. I would have ended up hating her.