15 thoughts on “‘Mildred Pierce’ (HBO): How to Make a Monster (Part Two)

  • April 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Yet another great reminder that what is left unresolved or unconscious in the parents is left for their children to deal with.

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  • April 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

    This series was excellent, as was your review. I had nearly the same reaction to Mildred and Veda’s final confrontation, and despite Mildred finally declaring “to hell with her,” you just know that the damage has been done and Veda, whether in New York or down the street, will weigh on Mildred until her dying day.

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  • April 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Kudos to the storyline and actors. A thoroughly entertaining story about a daughter that would make most normal parents shudder and a desparate parent who is shaped by the difficult circumstances of her life. Undoubtedly things would have been much different for Mildred if the youngest daughter had lived.

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  • May 1, 2011 at 2:56 am

    It takes some hard core rationalization to ignore the sins of Princess Veda and concentrate all the blame on the mother. Mildred never stops trying to win her daughter’s affection. She will risk it all and start over in order to be good enough. But hateful spoiled Veda only finds pleasure in causing pain. But she’s young and pretty and talented too – so you ignore the sociopath and instead pile on the mother.

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    • May 3, 2011 at 8:47 am

      I think you misunderstood my post. Assigning blame is fairly pointless and I never “blamed” Mildred for anything. My goal was to show how Veda’s character didn’t simply appear fully formed but was shaped by her mother’s conscious and unconscious attitudes — something fairly common in child’s development. Some of Veda’s spite and malice is just who she is; she absorbed many of her expectations from her mother.

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  • May 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Vedas ugly nature has nothing to do with Mildred manifesting expectations on her. Veda is a spoilt rotten woman strangely reminiscent off so many unpolished women of today who pay a shrink to blame their parent or a husband or any other thing person or idea for their corrupt natures, instead of standing up and accepting responsibility. supporting veda merely mirrors society today and its incorrigible take no responsibility attitude. if veda could be so influenced by mildred some of her dignity of labor may have rubbed off on her. basically veda will learn her lesson when her youth disappears.

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    • May 18, 2011 at 11:11 am

      You apparently agree with “mommie dearest” who wrote a similar comment. Your remarks have a hostile, judgmental tone to them; I don’t see any value in blaming either Veda or Mildred, or to pass judgment upon them for having a “corrupt nature.” The goal is to see how they came to be the way they are.

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  • May 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Not only do I agree with you, I have noticed that even in the 1945 movie, Mildred’s obsession over Veda remains intact to the very end, despite the change in the story’s narrative.

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  • June 2, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Very insightful review and analysis of the series. I just finished watching the 5th episode, and I differ in opinion on two points: first, Veda has as much, if not more, antisocial personality disorder as narcissistic personality disorder in her character. She willfully causes destruction and enjoys it. Narcissists are a bit too frothy for that.

    And it is not a glamorous life through her daughter that Milred craves, but her daughter’s approval, based on Veda’s own desire and sense of entitlement. It’s both heartbreaking and infuriating. Mildred returns to where she began, married to Bert and living in Glendale. She wasn’t really the craver of a glamorous life.

    Then there’s the whole “true artist as snake” angle, which is a whole other discussion. Though Veda is inexcusable.

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  • August 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I believe that Mildred wanted the glamour as much as Veda, but did not believe she had what it took to live that kind of life with ease. So, she looked upon Veda as the person who would live that kind of life for her.Mildred’s indulgence and enabling of Veda’s behavior is no more excusable than the latter’s behavior.

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  • April 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    I related very much to Mildred. I completely understand her view towards Veda. She loves her daughter so much she does not see her faults. She wants and believes her daughter will be someone “great” because of her belief and love for her. I don’t think she’s after any reflected fame or glory-she just loves her daughter so much. Her own personal success takes second place to her desire to do anything to make her child happy and fulfilled. She has a sense of self, and a pride in her accomplishments with her businesses, but in the end it always comes down to pleasing Veda, Veda, Veda. She loses her business and all the work she put into it because of a misplaced devotion to her daughter. She only begins to “get” what her greedy, narcissistic, unloving daughter is when the blackmail scheme with the rich boy shows Veda as she truly is. As a mother, she keeps chasing her daughter for inclusion in her life, even as Veda continues to wreck havoc on her mother’s life. I think she can’t understand how her daughter completely left her in the dark over her climb to fame, and then the final betrayal of seducing her boyfriend and later husband, Monty, and realizing her daughter was enjoying hurting her. For such an intelligent woman, Mildred is very slow to finally see her daughter clearly for the cruel, manipulating person she is. I do think she gets it in the end, she follows the cab as it drives away with Veda, but I don’t think she will continue to follow her. I think, actually, it will be Veda who will continue to send gushing notes to her mother about how great she is doing, to continue to hurt her mother in any way she can. A very powerful drama. Kate Winslett was awesome!

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  • May 22, 2015 at 2:16 am

    I am curious about the origin of the Monty Veda sexual connection. When Veda shares that Monty had discussed his and Mildred’s sex life she picks up a cigarette and threatens to burn the house down. This seems like it could speak to more disturbed emotions than issues of class might engender, but it’s hard to fully connect with that theme in 2015. In the scene when Mildred finds her in Monty’s bed, she, again, defiantly lights a cigarette, reminding us of her outburst In early pubesence. Visually she brings to mind Lolita and is slight enough to appear almost as if she were still a child.Could there be a suggestion that Monty had- beyond sharing inappropriate sexual information with Veda-taken advantage of her sexually as a child? The picture he kept from the time was of Veda, not Mildred. Could it have been him who was using Mildred to lure Veda back all along? I think either way, it’s a really interesting inverse of the oedipal complex. The naked strut metaphorically kills the mother, robbing her of her sexual power, by sleeping with the father-figure. Kate Blanchets acting here was stunning!

    In terms of Veda’s personality being created, I think that the death of her sister & mother’s feelings of failure play a huge role in her mother’s suffocating/enabling love and Veda’s rage and manipulative behaviors. She views Veda as so central to her happiness that she fears her and looks to her for approval. Finding one’s parent so desperate for love and approval could be frightening, and, yes, encourage manipulative behavoir, because it puts the child in emotionally authoritative role without the maturity to match it. When she tests her mother, she is met with rage and then an out-pouring of panicked love. There is no other voice (parent) or perspective, so the emotional drama is a vortex. Vida is acting out spitefully, but her mother’s response is heated and confused, giving her no real cues for better behavior. The scene where Vida sings, bangs on the piano and pukes, embodies the stress she has felt to perform fill her mother’s void created by dashed aspirations and the loss of her sister. It is easy to side with Mildred as a character, because she is motivated by love – but most strongly, I argue, to be loved – and to see Veda as simply cold and “bratty” is an oversimplification. I think Mildred’s inability to play grown-up emotionally as well as financially, set Veda up to be entitled, approval-driven and power hungry. The greatest expressions of love come from her mother when she strikes out or performs, she replays this scenario at a crescendoing pace, reaching its full pitch in her final betrayal.

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  • October 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    This mini-series fascinated me and although I was a bit stunned that it took such a drastic change in the end (it felt like another movie..Umm am I being punked? Is this an alternative ending? And the old is she dreaming?) I really wanted to read more about what others thought about the characters. I found them to be very complex. At times, I throughly respected Mildred and yet when she spoiled Veda I asked myself what in world she was doing. Why this lack of moral judgement with Veda? Mildred had seemed too intelligent for this. I also had a very hard time understanding Veda’s character throughout the movie. Is she sincere? Nope, she’s clearly narcissistic and purposely cruel. No maybe she really does love her mother and is being a bratty teenager. I was confused to say the least.
    I like the above point that “Curious” brings up about Monty’s seeming obsession with Veda when she was younger. I had thought about that when he had framed the photo of her when she was younger with the horse AND the headshot of her on the opposite side of the desk. Monty is clearly disturbed with a lust for greed. He had been a fallen aristocrat and allowed Mildred to help him again. I feel he is as equally disturbed as Veda since one moment he gives Mildred a “lesson in interior designing” (that chat about Bert’s den and how life should really meaning something) and then ultimately is lured back by the lifestyle of the rich and famous with Mildred’s own daughter! A process that Mildred herself gets caught up in too though as she suddenly transforms into Mrs. Forrester at the end with the ridiculous fur and snotty attitude.
    I would agree that Mildred sees herself in Veda. After all she is her daughter and she will have some of that same ambition that Mildred has. Mildred initially has too much pride and refuses to be a waitress for some time until necessity forces her too. Yet, I think it’s a process that everyone goes through in life. I am better than my current situation. I could be more in life than just a housewife or waitress. But then she comes back down to reality, Oh yah I need a job. Veda is different in this aspect she is cruelly ambitious. She is willing to crush even her own family to see that she “is somebody” in life. She never is offered the opportunity to struggle in life, to be grateful for all that her mom has done for her because Mildred is too obsessed with disappointing her. Yet Mildred is also fueled by her daughter’s ambition and probably would have never started her own restaurant without Veda. Somehow from an early age Veda saw her mother though tainted glasses. She interprets Mildred not being there on the day of her sister’s death as a personal or planned action by Mildred! She shames her mother when her mother already clearly is distraught that she couldn’t come at once. She is still bitter about Mildred not being there years after the fact when they are at the cemetery and yet Mildred cannot even recall what she’s talking about. Immediately after the death of her piano teacher she is yet again concerned with herself and what she will do now that the poor chap has died. She is ruthless and doesn’t communicate with her mother in an honest manner at this point anymore.

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  • October 16, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Also so interesting, after meeting with Treviso in the scene in the bedroom Veda says “You can kill it. You can kill it right now. You can drive a knife through it’s heart and it’ll be dead. You can forget you ever tried to play the piano.” When I first watched it I thought Veda was talking about herself and how she should give up piano but now I see she was talking about her Mom’s own obsession with having her daughter be a piano player. She is talking about her mom’s own unfulfilled dreams about failing at the piano! So interesting. I think Veda sees a lot that Mildred does not see and that she has never understood because of the lack of communication between them which is evident. Mildred has no idea what Veda has been doing at piano lessons with that old man for 4 years? Is that because Veda didn’t want to talk about it ever or because Mildred never asked? Never cared? Was too busy trying to make her restaurants a success to pay attention to her teenaged child. To maybe have a conversation with her instead of just buying her shit. She goes on to say in that same scene “But me (Mr. Hannen) he liked. Because he saw how I felt about it. Christ, that was something after living with you all my life.” This is really the point where there is no going back with Veda. She has become who she has because of her views on the world and her mom’s constant reminder that there is something inside her. In the end, her mom is right about Veda but raising Veda this way has made her become a terrible human being and one that she will always love but never be able to understand, until possibly she takes responsibility for her own part in it.

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  • August 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I actually saw Stockholm syndrome with Veda being the abuser and Mildred being the abused. I think when Veda was young and lashing out at her mother with put downs and venom, Mildred needed to be the grown up and dominant mother figure by nipping Vedas behaviour in the bud immediately and shutting it down but instead Mildred acted weak by becoming infuriated by Veda, slapping her and spanking her. Immediately Veda Lost all respect for her mother with Mildred’s childish unintelligent response and the power switched to Veda becoming the adult/dominant and Mildred the submissive/child.
    Once Veda knew she was the dominant/had the power, she continued to abuse Mildred into adulthood and Mildred just kept allowing it and coming back for more by buying Veda gifts, spoiling her trying to win her approval and affection. I think Mildred’s mothering skills were lacking and Veda could see this and she resented it and used it against Mildred.
    Mildred speaking to Veda like they were equals from the age of 11 when Veda needed a mother figure, stability, discipline and motherly advice and not like Veda was her ‘dearest friend’
    Mildred robbed Veda of her childhood in a way and her right to a solid motherly figure that she could always rely on to put her in her place and give her a strong dressing down when she got too cocky and too big for her boots.
    I saw so much in Mildred and Veda that I do with my own mother and myself and my sisters. My youngest sister was incredibly intelligent when she was a child, she observed the dynamic and power struggle between my mother and myself and my other sister and she learned early how to manipulate my mother and twist her around her little finger to get what she wanted, by leaving my mum notes of praise and love on her pillow daily then when mum didn’t give her what she wanted, ‘withdrawing’ the praise and replacing it with put downs and venom and lashing out at mum.
    Mum quickly learnt to give her what she wanted or face her wrath and punishment. Lol, to this day that continues. My mum has had to continue giving my sister money well into her 30’s whenever she demands it or face punishment from my sister which is unbearable for my mother to take as she’s in her mid 60’s now and is tired and just wants a peaceful life and a happy united family.
    My mother actually used to manipulate my own father this same way which sickened me when I was a young teenager and my little sister learnt off my mother how to do it and my sister now does the same to my mum!
    I adored Mildred in every sense. To me she was an honourable woman, strong, kind, sensible, hardworking but she didn’t instill those same characteristics in her daughter as if she despised all that she was and didn’t want her daughter to be anything like her and that was her biggest fault.
    By not loving herself enough and seeing her own unique, admirable characteristics, she prevented her own daughter from loving her and her daughter despised Mildred as much as Mildred seemed to despise herself.

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