Photo Credit: MIKE DISCIULLO/Bauer-Griffin
The death of a celebrity marriage can bring out the worst kind of dancing on the grave of someone else’s misfortune. In the New York Post's Page Six column on Monday, new reports of Kate Winslet’s devastating break-up with director husband Sam Mendes emerged that she wants out of their $6 million dollar triplex in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood that the couple has shared since 2005 because it has become haunted with the memories of her shouting matches with Mendes. But she must remain to shoot a five-hour HBO miniseries remake of Mildred Pierce.
For those of us who live on planet mortgage and laundry, this may all seem itself like a glossy movie set in Manhattan where even the poorest of friends live in loft apartments with gorgeous views. We continue to envy that apartment, that life of a glamorous Oscar-winning actress, and downplay the actual heartbreak at its center. But who among us hasn’t had that kind of wrenching split? Having beauty or a platinum American Express card –- or an Oscar for an impossibly explicit nude scene -- is no salve.
Heartbreak is heartbreak and Winslet has it in spades. Having met her twice at the kind of gala large dinner parties that are thrown on the road to Oscar -- first for Little Children, and then Revolutionary Road, the drama about a disintegrating marriage directed, ironically, by Mendes -- I have an atypical perspective. Up close, she was impossibly beautiful, the kind of woman who can make even a supermodel cat-scratch envious. But she was also nervous, and guarded, gracious on the outside but real underneath. And that sensitive mother of two, with the uncanny talent for transforming herself into a seductive Nazi or a frustrated '60s suburban housewife or Titanic’s ideal romantic heroine, is clearly feeling real pain.
The intensity of that pain was visible in Revolutionary Road, which opened with one of the rawest marital spats in recent movie memory between Winslet and her costar Leonardo DiCaprio as mismatched husband and wife. And now we've been given a different perspective courtesy of the present scandal: that of real-life hubby Mendes looking on from behind his lens and goading his wife into a more shattering performance.
Revolutionary Road featured the kind of searing fights between spouses that cause irreparable damage. And, as stories come out in the news, apparently Winslet and Mendes had similar spats behind closed doors in their Chelsea triplex, the so-called “house of horrors.”
Fancy apartments and starring roles can’t insulate a person from marital distress. And, thinking both of Kate, and of her star marital scandal-mate Sandra Bullock, I sympathize with two wives who have to suffer that horrible emotional tsunami under klieg lights and public scrutiny.
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