Mildred Pierce Movie Poster Image

Mildred Pierce

Riveting drama with strong female lead, plus graphic sex.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 300 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Family, and the choices we make to accommodate them, emerge as the core themes of this film. Mildred is a loving mother, but her love for her daughter, Veda, also allows her to overlook some of Veda's worst traits, which comes back to haunt Mildred later in life. Hard work is celebrated through much of the film, though ultimately Mildred loses much that she's struggled to achieve.

Positive role models

Mildred is a single mother in dire straits who uses her smarts and talent to care for her family and find success. She's a particularly strong and well-rounded female character who always tries to do the right thing, even if it may not turn out for the best. But Mildred consistently turns a blind eye to her daughter's scheming, social climbing ways, which only exacerbates the behavior.


Mildred slaps her daughter, Veda, two times; Veda slaps her mother. Mildred spanks her daughter. When Veda is an adult, Mildred chokes her. A child dies onscreen.


Groping, full nudity, and insinuation of sexual acts, as well as graphic sex. Buttocks, breasts, and frontal female nudity are shown.


Swearing includes "bastard," as well as very occasional uses of "damn" and "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Frequent cigarette smoking; children are given glasses of water with bits of scotch in them. Children pretend that they're drunk. A 14-year-old girl smokes in front of her mother.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:January 3, 2012
Cast:Evan Rachel Wood, Guy Pearce, Kate Winslet, Mare Winningham
Director:Todd Haynes
Studio:HBO Home Video
Run time:300 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
Awards/Honors:Golden Globe

This review of Mildred Pierce was written by

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Kid, 11 years old April 2, 2011

Great For Mature Kids

Breathtaking! This is a great show for mature tweens and up. Kids will probably have to close their eyes during the sex scenes. Some drinking and smoking.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking