IT IS ALMOST NIGH. The Todd Haynes-helmed adaptation of James M. Cain’s 1941 novel is set to debut on HBO a week from Sunday. Are you excited? Sort of? Don’t know who the heck this Mildred Pierce is or why you should give her five hours of your life? Well, let me tell you. Here are five reasons that you should watch Mildred Pierce.
1. The Source Material
In the “Making Of” featurette on HBO’s website, director Todd Haynes relates how he picked up James M. Cain’s sprawling novel soon after the stock market crashed, and that the parallels to the Depression-era melodrama were immediately apparent. The story revolves around the fraught relationship of a mother and daughter, and is thick with intrigue, betrayal, and a kind of sexuality shocking for the time. The HBO treatment promises that there won’t be any post-war sugarcoating. We’ll get the meaty story in its entirety.
2. The Cast
The cast, yo! Kate Winslet is Mildred, whom she describes as a “juggernaut of a woman”. Awesome. Guy Pearce plays her lover Monty Beragon, and Evan Rachel Wood is perfectly cast as the cold, calculating, harpy daughter, Veda. And Melissa Leo, she of rambling Oscar speeches and professional crazy, joins the party as Concerned Friend #1.
3. Kate Winslet Convinced Evan Rachel Wood To Get Naked For The Show
It’s exactly what it sounds like. For the TL;DR crowd: Evan Rachel Wood was a tidge nervous, and Kate Winslet essentially sat her down and said “Listen, I’ve been naked on camera eight-million times. It’s like a club.”
4. Kate Winslet Is In Every Damn Scene
Are you thinking about taking acting lessons? Don’t do it, it’s expensive. Just watch Mildred Pierce. Kate Winslet, who looks pleasantly like a real woman who has lived and aged and eaten things that are meat, is in every friggin’ scene. Considering that shooting schedules are generally twelve hour days every day, this is kind of like running a marathon, except the marathon lasts the amount of time it takes to shoot a five hour miniseries. In the words of costume designer Ann Roth, “She had sixty-six [costume] changes in this. That’s more than a person can deal with.”
5. The Lead Characters Are Both Women
Strong women! Strong, well-written women! Mildred and Veda are like two sides of a self-possessed coin. Mildred is a self-made woman with a weakness for the people she loves. Veda has little love for anyone, but her charisma has its own gravitational pull. Men are ancillary in this story, a big-budget HBO-stravaganza, and that is refreshing.
Dem’s five reasons to watch this series. One for every hour!