Today: June 20, 2024

Kate Winslet’s Best Period Dramas

Bursting onto screens with her strikingly English rose features and vivacious demeanour, Kate Winslet has carved out an impressive and eclectic resume over the years. While she has tried her hand at several genres (always successfully) she has, in particular, made a name for herself in acclaimed, brilliant period dramas. To celebrate the release of her latest, A Little Chaos we take a look back at some of her other best portrayals of characters from yesteryear…

A Little Chaos (2014)
This wonderfully romantic period drama focuses on brilliantly talented landscape gardener Madame Sabine De Barra (Winslet) who finds herself an unlikely candidate for landscape architect of the still‐to-be-completed Palace of Versailles. Thrown into the bewildering world of the court of King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman), she  finds she has little time for the classical, ordered designs of her employer, the famous architect Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts). However, as she works on her creation, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to him, while attempting to negotiate the perilous rivalries and intricate etiquette of the court.

Mildred Pierce (2011)
Set in 1930’s California, this acclaimed HBO series stars Winslet as Mildred Pierce, a young mother with a talent for baking. Hunting for work to support herself and her two young daughters after throwing out her husband, Bert (Brían F. O’Byrne) Pierce visits an employment agency. Finding the job opportunities on offer underwhelming, she resolves to open a restaurant business – straining an already tense relationship with her eldest daughter Veda (Evan Rachel Wood).

Revolutionary Road (2008)
This atmospheric and unsettling adaptation of Richard Yates’ acclaimed novel reunites Winslet with Leonardo DiCaprio, as they take the roles of Frank and April Wheeler, who in 1955 find themselves in the seventh year of their marriage, and in a life that appears seemingly perfect but is in fact deeply unfulfilling. When April suggests that they move to Paris – a city Frank visited during the war and loved – as a means to rejuvenate their life, an initially doubtful Frank ultimately agrees to the plan. However, when circumstances change around the Wheelers, April resolves to do whatever she has to in order to escape her humdrum existence, with with tragic consequences.

Finding Neverland (2004)
Winslet co-stars alongside Johnny Depp in this charming biographical drama set in London in 1903.  J.M. Barrie (Depp) is left reeling after his latest play flops. By chance he meets four boys and their widowed mother Sylvia (Winslet) in the park. Over the next few months, the childlike Barrie visits the boys daily, and inspired by their endlessly imaginative games, begins to develop the idea for his next play. Meanwhile, his friendship grows with Sylvia, much to the fury of his wife Mary (Radha Mitchell), and to the judgment of the wider high society they inhabit. As Sylvia’s health begins to deteriorate, Barrie’s bond to the family strengthens, and he resolves to finish his play about the place called Neverland.

The Reader (2008)
Winslet won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in this deeply affecting drama, which begins in post-war Germany. Teenager Michael Berg (David Kross) is taken ill and helped home by Hanna (Winslet) – a stranger twice his age. Recovering from scarlet fever, he seeks out Hanna to thank her, and they begin a passionate affair. Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens as Michael reads to her from various classics. Despite their intense bond, she suddenly vanishes one day and Michael is left heartbroken. Eight years later, while Michael (now played by Ralph Fiennes) is a law student watching the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to see Hanna again – this time in the dock. As Hanna’s past is slowly revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives forever.

Enigma (2001)
This drama centres on the British code-breaking efforts during World War II. Cryptoanalysts at Bletchley Park have discovered that Nazi U-boats have changed their Enigma code. Authorities enlist the help of the brilliant young Tom Jericho (Dougray Scott) to help them break the code again, with the help of an equally brilliant team. The possibility of a spy within the British code-breakers’ ranks hangs over them and Tom’s lover, Claire (Saffron Burrows), has mysteriously disappeared. To crack the code and try and discover the spy, Tom recruits Claire’s best friend, Hester Wallace (Winslet), and the two begin to delve into Claire’s personal life, unearthing betrayals which go farther than either of them could imagine.

Quills (2000)
This Oscar-nominated biography of infamous writer the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) focuses on his times spent imprisoned for unmentionable activities at Charenton Insane Asylum. He manages to befriend the young Abbé de Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), who runs the asylum, along with a beautiful laundress named Madeline (Winslet). Secretly continuing to write his provocative books, Madeline assists by smuggling the manuscripts out of the asylum to be published. However, when they are discovered, the ramifications are severe, and stretch far beyond the walls of the asylum…

Titanic (1997)
Catapulting her to the A-list, this James Cameron directed epic focuses on the ill-fated love affair between young aristocrat Rose DeWitt Bukater (Winslet) and penniless artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), as they both embark on RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage. The film won an astounding eleven Oscars, including Best Picture, and Winslet was nominated for Best Actress, making her the youngest actress to ever receive two Academy Award nominations.

Sense & Sensibility (1995)
Winslet is perfectly cast as the flighty, fanciful Marianne Dashwood who couldn’t be more different to her older sister Elinor (Emma Thompson), but ultimately comes good. Ang Lee directed this adaptation of the Jane Austen classic, and Emma Thompson won a thoroughly deserved Oscar for her adapted screenplay. Hugh Grant, Greg Wise and Alan Rickman play the various suitors which the Dashwood sisters must navigate.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Based on the true story of Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Winslet), this crime drama charts the meeting of the two young girls in school during the 1950s, and their instant friendship. Spending every minute possible together, and concocting a fantasy world and religion of their own invention, the girls grew more and more estranged from their respective families, and as the two families became increasingly concerned about the intensity of the friendship, the girls conspired to kill Pauline’s mother, to ensure they wouldn’t be separated.

A LITTLE CHAOS is available on digital platforms from 10th August, 2015, and on Blu-ray and DVD from 24th August, 2015, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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