At Grazia HQ this morning we choked on our lattes on seeing the first images of Kate Winslet on the set of the HBO miniseries ‘Mildred Pierce’ which Todd Haynes is directing for release later this year.
The original movie, for those of you not au fait with 1940’s cinematography, stars Joan Crawford in an Oscar winning performance as Mildred Pierce. Mildred is a middle-class American housewife who has had it up to here with her husband’s lethargy while the family faces financial meltdown, so she musters up some moxie and gets herself a job as a waitress, before going on to buy a chain of cafes in a brilliant go-get-em early feminist way. There’s also a genius flashback subplot, involving Mildred’s minxy spoilt daughter (now played, wouldntchaknow by Evan Rachel Wood) and the murder of Mildred’s second husband (Aussie hottie Guy Pearce). The original film is a mega-cult hit, partly because it is fabulously, hilariously melodramatic to the max, in the way that only black-and-white movies can be. And partly because Pierce was the original power-dresser with a full-on wardrobe that in many ways was the original forerunner to Alexis Carrington’s barmy power-cocktail bling in 'Dynasty'.
Of course, film remakes are a notoriously difficult thing to pull off, especially when the film is a much loved and iconic one (the Anne Heche version of ‘Psycho’, anyone?). Haynes, though, is one director who can usually be relied upon to sensitively and beautifully re-imagine existing stories; after all, this is a man who made Julianne Moore look beyond amazing in his 1950’s style melodrama ‘Far From Heaven’.
When the casting was announced earlier this year, we totally felt that Kate was the perfect choice to take on one of Crawford’s most famous roles; striking and beautiful rather than pretty, Winslet is a commanding and versatile actress and inevitably, the sad news about the breakdown of her marriage to Sam Mendes has added an extra poignancy to her taking a part in which she plays a single mother reassessing her life.
So far, so dandy; Kate will undoubtedly make a fabulous Mildred, but our first thought when we clapped eyes on the first pics of Kate in character was this: what, pray tell, has The Winslet been asked to wear?
We all know that clothing can be crucially important in making a movie successful (just ask Patricia Field) and the original version of this film didn’t disappoint; Crawford opens the film wearing an awesome coat with shoulders wider than the cloud of volcanic ash currently hovering above the UK, and the classic full make-up she was famous for. This time around, however, Haynes seems to have chosen a more, erm, dowdy aesthetic for his star (which is undoubtedly more period-accurate but waaay less glamorous). We want shoulders! Lips! Hair! In the first pics from set, Winslet looks more like Mrs. Overall than Mrs. Pierce.
Even more annoying: the timing couldn’t be better for a full-on Forties wardrobe - how awesome would Winslet have looked in a masculine tuxedo like those in Bottega Veneta’s A/W ‘10 collection? Or in a sharp-shouldered jacket and pencil skirt, reminiscent of Giorgio Armani's latest RTW show? Make-up wise, we would have loved to have seen Kate maximize her striking natural beauty - whilst we don’t want to sound too much like American Apparel boss Dov Charney, it would have been great to have seen La Winslet go all out on her brows (Crawford had some serious caterpillars). Lipstick-wise, it’s almost a crime not to go down the statement lip route at the moment; just last week Tom Ford announced the launch of his capsule lipstick collection and rightly declared that lipstick can “define a woman's whole look”. A sentiment we totally agree with.
Grazia Daily thinks it’s likely Haynes is deliberately moving away from the aesthetic of the original film for his new version of the story, rather than being seen to produce a carbon copy. We can’t help but feel, though, that it would be a shame for the awesomeness of the original Mildred Pierce to be ignored purely to differentiate the new miniseries from the film, especially as we all know how amazing Todd Haynes’ movies can look.
However, not even we would be brave enough to review a movie’s wardrobe on the basis of one outfit. Unless that movie is ‘Clash of the Titans’, of course. We have our fingers crossed that Winslet reaches her full sartorial potential as Mildred Pierce as the series progresses; after all, this could be as much of a TV fashion moment for 2010 as 'Mad Men' was for 2009 and we would love, LOVE to have an excuse to dress in Forties attire come Autumn ‘10.
- Alex Butt