HBO publicists didn’t invite me to see Todd Haynes‘ Mildred Pierce miniseries in advance, but I’ve seen two episodes so far (#1 and #3) and found it pretty absorbing. I’d read that it might be a wee bit sluggish, but I wasn’t the least bit impatient or disengaged with any of it. I believed every shot, line and scene. And it’s obviously very well acted by everyone (and I haven’t even gotten to Evan Rachel Wood‘s section yet).
Kate Winslet‘s performance as the struggling titular character, a role previously owned by Joan Crawford in the 1945 Hollywood version, uncovers something anxious and frumpy and unmistakably genuine in herself. I think it’s one of her finest.
I read that Mildred Pierce opened to disappointing ratings. I’m guessing the numbers haven’t dramatically shot up since, and if so that’s a shame.
Last week’s Vulture‘s Jane Mulkerrins asked Haynes about criticism that the series is a bit too slow and luxuriant. “I’m sure some viewers are not up for this experience,” Haynes replied. “I don’t agree, but it is all according to people’s tastes. I think it’s good for us, in our era of constant distraction and digital multitasking, bite-size information and endless texting, to have an experience where you actually move through someone’s life without leaping hysterically, flashing forward, and jumping around.
“I’ve never done anything this doggedly linear in my career as a filmmaker, and that’s what the novel does — it spans nine years. The novel is intensely, realistically linear, and that is one of the challenges that I took on. I think if you enjoy getting in-depth, and you enjoy following characters over time, you will enjoy this. It’s an experience that is more akin to reading a novel than watching a single film. And with these performances, and this amazing era that you get to travel through, there’s an awful lot to enjoy beyond just the narrative.”