Kate Winslet’s birthday: how Mare of Easttown changed the way great ladies are viewed
British actress Kate Winslet has been a part of big movies during her career. From independent films to full-fledged romantic shows, Winslet did it all. Primarily known for her commendable performances in films, Winslet also frequently hit the television industry, even in her early days (read Get Back, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, and Dark Season). Today too, as television content has taken on a whole new meaning, Winslet has made its presence in space, and how. Television today is more daring, inventive, and unafraid to take risks, which goes hand in hand with Winslet’s ability to challenge herself and transform into a new person with every project. Her experiences with modern television have been particularly enriching for her and for us, the audience.
Ten years ago, Kate jumped at the chance to portray a self-sacrificing mother with a troubled personal history and a struggling professional life in Mildred Pierce. Most recently, Kate Winslet’s winning turn in the HBO miniseries Mare of Easttown has garnered her praise from all corners.
Based on the 1941 novel of the same name by James M Cain, Mildred Pierce was first adapted into the 1945 film which starred a scintillating Joan Crawford. The film noir was well done and boasted an outstanding performance from the leading role. The film had so much of an influence on the people who watched it that they had strong reservations about choosing Winslet in a second take on the source material. However, Winslet wasn’t a movie, it was an American miniseries directed by the talented Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Carol and Dark Waters).
The story centers on a mother who will do anything to gain her daughter’s approval. But it’s the Great Depression, and Winslet’s character doesn’t just have to deal with things personally, but also deal with things from a work standpoint. Away from her husband, falling in love with a man and hoping to make things right with her daughter Veda (a formidable Evan Rachel Wood), Winslet’s Mildred does things that only a parent who is hopelessly in love could have done. And yet, it fails one way or another. The show is overwhelming and highlights an aspect of the parent-child relationship that is not often talked about. We only think romantic love can be all-consuming, but the kind of sacrifices and battles our parents fight for us, which all parents usually do, are unique and a wonder to watch. Sometimes that also seems unreasonable, especially if you are not a parent yourself. It’s this emotional vulnerability that Winslet brings out in the series that grabs you and doesn’t leave you until the very last episode.
This wonderful and honestly written character now in hindsight seems tailor-made for someone of Kate Winslet’s caliber. Tortured but not transparent with her emotions, a great detective but will not hesitate to venture into questionable areas that could put her career in danger; To say that Mare Sheehan is a complex character would be an understatement. There are many shades of right and wrong, gray and white within us and it is precisely this spectrum that Winslet manages to show us in this seven part series. His body language, his precise American accent and, while doing so, not losing sight of the big picture, the humanity of Mare, is an achievement. Winslet deserved all the accolades that were addressed to him.
In an interview with The New York Times, the actor revealed that she didn’t want her on-screen appearance altered in any way. Apparently when director Craig Zobel told her not to worry about belly fat, the actor said no, she didn’t want it to be “affected”. “‘They were like’ Kate, really you can’t ‘and I’m like’ Guys I know how many lines I have next to my eye, please put them all back in place . ‘”Without trying to make it sound bigger than it is, that’s exactly what an artist means when they say they’re’ looking for the truth ‘in a role. Because at this point in time, Kate Winslet isn’t some jaw-dropping Hollywood superstar, rather, she’s an awesome woman who is both broken and strong. A woman who is not afraid to be who she really is. So how could Kate be afraid of being Mare, when Mare herself doesn’t believe in stepping back?
At first glance, Mare of Easttown comes across as a thriller, which it is. But what lies at the heart of the series is the story of this courageous woman who is petrified to look deep within herself, her past. She doesn’t like confrontation, and she doesn’t really agree with therapy. But slowly, as she begins to open up with her therapist, Mare comes apart, on all fronts, and it changes her forever.
Despite a certain amount of bleaching, it would be hard to deny the brilliance of Mare of Easttown. As for Kate Winslet, that’s all she’s been for most of her career. And especially in the aforementioned miniseries.
You can watch both shows on Disney Plus Hotstar.