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Archive for the ‘Bryan O’Byme’ Category

Mildred Pierce — 2012 version — The Guy Pearce Papers — 3

13 Oct

Mildred Peirce – directed by Todd Haynes. Drama. A single mother in the Depression struggles to support herself, and turns to baking, which leads to great success with the business and great failure with her daughter and her lover. 5 part mini series. Color 2012.
★★★★★
He enters our field of vision with exactly the right hair, as a sort of male Veronica Lake. Peering from beneath the springy, pendulant twin locks his center-dividing part grants it, his hair is so much of the period of the ‘30s, that one is stunned to remember that that is so. Stunned also by this choice of hair, which is always a leading choice for an actor, and which supports what he makes of the character of this louche playboy: Dan Duryea and George Plimpton rolled up into one, with a dash of impatience and a soupcon of charm. He is fully embodied. Guy Pierce is so at ease inside this smarmy prince that one cannot but admire his style at the same time that one deplores its effects. He is an actor of great phsyical dispatch, with a neck feathered for mating dance at all times. The accent is perfect, as usual with this actor. It never gets misplaced; it never is exaggerated; he is never lost behind it. This is true of the accents of all the players in this perfectly cast piece. Morgan Turner as a young miss putting on airs makes her character so infuriating, one can only send her flowers of congratulations, since that is exactly what the character, and with no holds barred, should be. The range of casting is a cake rich throughout. Evan Rachel Wood is exactly right as the musician the young Veda Pierce grows into. Yes, one thinks, that unusual little girl could have become this raving beauty, and Wood must have copied the younger actor’s performance to get the character so right. Bryan F. O’Byme has this great moving mug; another face of the period; he keeps the story of Mildred’s husband covert and easy, until the very end. A wonderful actor, as, of course, is Melissa Leo as Mildred’s crony and another one, James Le Gros as Mildred’s aid and abettor. Mare Winningham, a waitress, is a creature entirely out of the ‘30s. She existed never after. Remarkable in this picture, in fact, are all the ‘30s production values – music by Carter Burwell, set and art decoration by Peter Rogness and Ellen Christiansen, and all the cars correct. I lived through that time, so I know. But what is most remarkable of all are the costumes by Ann Roth. They are exactly right at every turn. And they are particularly suited to our belovèd Kate Winslet who is not an elegant woman or a fashion plate like Evan Rachel Wood, and who is dressed perfectly for her type, in every scene, as is everyone else, male and female. Winslet brings to the character a determined mother-love, a love which hangs onto her daughter and blinds her to what she is. Winslet is earthy. You believe she can make pies and quarter fowl. Joan Crawford in the part you never believe could do either, but Crawford brought a trait inherent in her, the desire to pull herself up by her bootstraps (or ankle straps) and better herself. Crawford was like that in person, and you believed her drive towards that end. It worked for the role. What Winslet brings to the role is the temperament of a woman who is uneducated and ignorant, a woman who never had a single ambition; had many feelings but no thoughts; lived from day to day, pie to pie. Winslet is always lovable; Crawford never is. Crawford was always special; Winslet never is, and it serves her well. When you see her at the concert leaning forward to understand an aria, you see that, try as she might, she is aesthetically cut off from understanding or appreciation or even enjoyment. She tries too hard for her ever to get it – a human being like that. The director and his cronies give a silly, because unprepared commentary, unworthy of the film they have made. But one thing they do say is that, unlike the Crawford version, they have stayed close to James M. Caine’s novel. Of it they have made an interesting and commanding rendition. A remarkable achievement by all.

 
 
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