Saturday 23 July 2011
I began watching HBO’s adaptation of Mildred Pierce with trepidation. I studied the 1945 film, directed by Michael Curtiz, as part of my BA and wondered how well the new adaptation would fare.
The original film was a popular melodrama, one of those known as ‘maternal melodrama’, whose storylines focused on self-sacrificing women, and the role of women in family and society. 1945’s Mildred Pierce was full of poignant references to the woman’s place during recession and the gaining of independence and confidence for post-war women.
I did not expect that the modern adaptation would capture the essence of the story in such a hard-hitting and relevant way as its predecessor, and unfortunately it seems that my prediction was correct. The series seems somehow shallow in its more modern TV guise and events did not move me as much as the film.
Whilst I cannot fault the acting, settings and overall look of HBO’s miniseries, I am left wanting more than the veneer coating. This version of the story sees to be lacking the drama and tension that was so rich in the noir melodrama of the forties and for me, does not capture the power of Mildred Pierce, neither in story nor character.