Directed by: Karen Leigh Hopkins
Starring: Katie Holmes, James Badge Dale, Callan Mulvey, Jean Smart, Stephen Bishop
On the outside, Miss Meadows is a prim and proper school teacher who has a rosy and whimsical outlook on the world. However, she also moonlights as a vigilante, killing criminals with absolute precision. When she finds herself being wooed by the local sheriff, her two personas find themselves on a collision course...
Miss Meadows is a quaint, whimsical comedy thriller which is a great little showcase for Katie Holmes.
The style of the film is a bit like The Voices - it has a similar whimsical style and a protagonist living in a self-contrived fantasy. However Miss Meadows' condition isn't the result of a lack of medication, its a direct result of a childhood trauma.
We get a taste of this in the opening. The film pushes the whimsy to almost Disney parody, as Miss Meadows seems to converse with cute animals (Mr Bluebird puts in more than one appearance). Her chirpy outlook on life is threatened however by the appearance of a van driver making lewd comments, leading to him pulling a gun on her and trying to force her into his vehicle. However Miss Meadows isn't about to let that spoil her day...
Miss Meadow's life may have continued in that vein if not for a chance encounter with the local sheriff (we never do learn his actual name!), who becomes smitten with her. The Sheriff is almost a kindred spirit, espousing the same sort of manners and etiquette that Miss Meadows does. He's kind and courteous and does a good job of wooing her on her terms. However, he's no dummy and as the evidence towards her builds, the sheriff must wrestle with his conscience about what to do.
Fairy tales tend to be whimsical and fantastic while at the same time dark and cautionary, and director Karen Leigh Hopkins manages to find that balance. The film is able to lead you down a sugar-strewn path, only to swiftly turn a corner into darkness and blood. In addition, the film adds its own Big Bad Wolf character in the shape of Skylar (Callan Mulvey).
Skylar isn't a typical villain - he has a cunning intelligence and is able to feel out Miss Meadows secret life. When Miss Meadows goes to his house for tea, and to lay down an ultimatum, it doesn't quite go as planned, as Skylar is able to riposte each of her remarks with wit and charm, to the point where the audience starts to wonder if things are as black and white as Miss Meadows' world view.
As a film, the quirky Miss Meadows only has one real misstep, in that the ending is rather obvious to see coming. Even so, watching the various pieces all slot into place and working out the plot's destination gives the viewer something of a warm feeling, cutting through the tension with the knowledge that things might work out after all.
Miss Meadows is a very quirky, whimsical film, sugary on the outside but cut through with a streak of darkness. If you liked The Voices, chances are you'll enjoy this too.
8 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)