"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is/To have a thankless child!" - William Shakespeare A word to the wise: Don't go into HBO's Todd Haynes-directed mini-series Mildred Pierce , which begins Sunday, expecting the noir-tinged murder plot of the 1945 Joan Crawford film. In adapting James M. Cain's novel--the basis for that famous film--writers Todd Haynes and Jon Raymond have hewed closely to the underlying material, rather than the sensationalized drama film with the same name, where the titular businesswoman, Mildred Pierce (Crawford), is suspected of killing her wealthy playboy husband, allegedly trading her pie weights for bullets. Here, there is no murder, no discussion of criminality, though the notion of maternal sacrifice looms large over the action. Here, in Haynes' five-hour miniseries, Mildred Pierce is played by Kate Winslet, who gives her Mildred a brittleness and hubris-like pride that are wholly in keeping with McCain's original novel.