Written by Michael Clawson
Cooled-down melodrama: with performances perfectly calibrated to be heightened but not histrionic, Haynes very often takes the camera and backs away, shooting through windows and doorways to actively avoid magnifying the emotion of a scene. He’s always finding the perfect distance from which to see Mildred, a distance from which every one of her gestures and words registers, but not so close that we can’t see how she appears in a space, be it her kitchen, a bedroom, or her restaurant’s dining room. The images are muted and moodily beautiful, dusky sights of Depression-era California made to look like Hopper paintings by Ed Lachmann.
Haynes also fully and completely appreciates Mildred’s complexities, and how issues of work, love, family, and class can be inseparably entwined. A divorced single mom to two girls, one of whom is only ever trying to pull away; a skilled cook; a savvy, entrepreneurial businesswoman; a middle-aged woman with passionate romantic desires: Haynes is attentive to all of Mildred’s facets, and Winslet is never less than stunning in bringing them to life. A tremendous, devastating work, all around.
Mildred Pierce Trailer
Mildred Pierce is streaming on HBO Max and available to rent or purchase on most major VOD platforms.