Sunday night brought the last two segments of the new HBO five hour miniseries, Mildred Pierce. Rather than writing out paragraphs of detailed review, here’s a list of ten things, both good and bad, of note within the last three hours, in no particular order. Please feel free to add to the list if you think something important was missed, or debate why something is included.
1. Same as the previous list. Kate Winslet, who plays the title character, will win the Emmy. She just will, sorry, no contest. She is doing a fantastic job in a miniseries that is attracting attention and praise. There will be other actresses as good this year, but you would be hard pressed to find one better, and she will win.
2. The whole miniseries is a palindrome. Mildred begins married to Bert (Brian F. O’Byrne), divorces, loses a daughter (Ray, who dies), takes a lover, starts a business, find success, loses the business, loses the lover, loses a daughter (Veda runs out on her), divorces, marries Bert again. Ah, symmetry!
3. I thought I would like Evan Rachel Wood better as Veda than Morgan Turner, the younger version. I was wrong. While Wood did fine, she had less to work with than Turner, who played Veda for a longer period of time. Wood got the juicy finale, but Turner deserves to get a supporting actress Emmy nomination.
4. Veda screws everything up. Veda ruins Mildred’s relationships and her chain of restaurants. Veda distracts Mildred from what she should be focusing on. If Mildred had had an abortion, or given Veda up for adoption, none of the bad things in her life would have ever happened. The story would have a happy ending.
5. Almost none of the characters are likable. In fact, they are downright creeps. Bert is the best part of the family, almost worth rooting for, and even he cheated on his wife and ran off with the girl. No wonder Veda grew up to be such a psycho!
6. Mildred is a terrible mother. You spoil a kid, she takes advantage and feels entitled. Again, no wonder Veda grew up to be a psycho!
7. Monty (Guy Pearce) should be locked up as a sexual predator. Yes, his intercourse with Veda is consensual, and she is an adult by that point. However, sleeping with your wife’s daughter is more than taboo. It is wrong under any circumstances, and it is disappointing that Monty and Veda end up together. Surely, should there have ever been a sequel, they would be split within months. He is only with her for the same reasons he was with Mildred â€” money and sex.
8. Ida (Mare Winningham) is the sole sane character. She is kind and generous. She takes over the business, but only reluctantly, and remains friends with Mildred. It’s easy to see why Ida is included in the restaurants, and giving her her own location is both a stroke of genius, from a fianancial standpoint, and also plants the seeds of Mildred’s eventual removal.
9. Lucy (Melissa Leo) actually ends up saner than Mildred. She is first introduced as a flighty weirdo, but grows into quite a sensible person. She had heart and intelligence. I guess some people really do mature nicely.
10. This miniseries is wonderful for an artistic perspective, and because of the talent behind it. The story is horrible, in that the characters are not relatable and terrible people. Perhaps it isn’t unrealistic, but it is hard to look past such repulsive behavior. It will get accolades, as it should, but it will never be something people gleefully watch on a Friday night.