Tag: Melissa Leo

Image courtesy of HBO.

**** (out of 4)

In 2011, Todd Haynes, the filmmaker behind Far from Heaven and Carol, directed Mildred Pierce, an HBO miniseries that’s decidedly more faithful to James M. Cain’s original novel than Michael Curtiz’s well-known film version. For those who aren’t familiar with any version of Mildred Pierce: the titular character is a middle-aged California woman (played by Kate Winslet) who divorces her cheating husband (Brían F. O’Byrne) and becomes a successful restaurant owner during the Great Depression. Her life, however, is ultimately ruined by her daughter Veda (Morgan Turner, Evan Rachel Wood), a spoiled and spiteful opera singer who manipulates her, insults her, and eventually sleeps with her second husband (Guy Pearce).

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Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

(Note: a version of this article also appeared on PopMatters at this link.)

Frozen River: **
Leave No Trace: ****

Two films made by female directors offer a meaningful look at the different ways one can go about depicting poverty. The first, Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, 2008), tells the story of Ray (Melissa Leo), a mother of two who smuggles illegal immigrants across the US-Canada border in upstate New York. Conversely, Debra Granik’s new film, Leave No Trace (2018), follows Will (Ben Foster) and Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), a homeless father and daughter who illegally live in a public park outside Portland, Oregon.

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