A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, as Mildred Pierce, star Kate Winslet gives a stunning lead performance, whether she's in or out of her clothes -- and she's frequently out of them. Graphic, grinding sex, plus groping and insinuations of sex, are only a few of the reasons why this HBO miniseries is best for mature teens and adults. Perhaps even more problematic for younger viewers are the shocking death of Pierce's younger daughter and her older daughter's frequently awful behavior toward her mother.
What's the story?
In Glendale, California, in the 1930s, Mildred Pierce (Kate Winslet), a "grass widow," must find a means to support herself and her two daughters after her husband leaves them for another woman. First finding work as a waitress, Mildred then turns her baking skills into a successful pie-making business and, later, a restaurant empire. Along the way, she suffers heartbreaking loss as her younger daughter dies, and she tries to connect with her self-centered, social-climbing older daughter, Veda (Evan Rachel Wood). Mildred also explores her sexuality, creates lasting friendships, and reconnects with her ex-husband. The film is based on the James M. Cain novel and bears very little resemblance to the 1945 Joan Crawford film of the same name.
Is it any good?
Told as a five-part miniseries and directed by Todd Haynes, MILDRED PIERCE has a lot to like. Winslet's performance as Mildred is absolutely mesmerizing, the writing is sharp, and supporting performances by Guy Pearce as Mildred's lover, Monty Beragon, and Wood as Veda are excellent. Fans of period dramas will be thrilled with the historically accurate and sumptuous set design, as well as the frocks sported by the actresses.
The sex scenes -- while beautifully filmed -- are graphic enough to make teens blush in the presence of parents. If families do want to view the miniseries together, expect lively discussions surrounding the relationship between Mildred and Veda, as well as speculation about why Veda's behavior grows progressively worse.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about role models and stereotypes. Is Mildred a positive female character? A stereotype? What characteristics define a fictional role model? Do they have to be flawless, or do flaws make them more relateable?
Talk about portrayals of sex in film. Do these scenes move the plot forward? What reason would the director or writers have for including scenes like this?
How does parents' behavior affect children's behavior. Is Mildred to blame for any of Veda's behavior? Why or why not? Do you think that if Mildred did anything differently, Veda would be a better person?
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