The New York Times has a mixed review from the time of the film's release. Variety says, "The dramatics are heavy but so skillfully handled that they never cloy." Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars calls it an "intense melodrama" and says, "Though all of its craft is accomplished, Mildred Pierce never gets deep under one’s skin the way it ought to."
Empire Online concludes with this:
Wow! It may not be art or good taste, but throbbing melodrama doesn't come with more conviction. Even to those usually turned off by the tough Crawford, Mildred is compelling.Filmsite.org has an extensive plot description and describes it as "a classic, post-war film noir mixed with typical soap-operish elements of the woman's melodramatic picture or "weeper," including a strand of a typical murder mystery". BBC gives it 4 out of 5 stars and praises Joan Crawford. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 83%.