Signifying the seriously split personality divide in this country – and likewise quite the elephant in the room – is what may best describe the dilemma at hand in terms of the two biggest exports of America to the rest of the world: Hollywood and weapons of war. Along with a culture fixated on insatiable rampant cheery consumerism, while promoting morally indignant posturing as it engages in acts against rest of the world.
And what more both delightful and disturbing expression of that colossal chasm in a movie, than to personify that contradiction in a prim, daffy and dainty female homicidal vigilante, who could have easily stepped out of a 1950’s era serene sitcom to blow away an array of incidental bad guys loitering around her Middle American burb. And though the bloody Red State satirical romp starring Katie Holmes is titled Miss Meadows, it could have just as well been called say, Uzi And Harriet.
As much a movie as a discomforting mirror into the heart of darkness of America as self-appointed dubious moral enforcer around the world, Miss Meadows features a combo mesmerizing and mysterious Holmes decked out in mid-20th century retro mismatched frilly polka dots, stripes and lace frocks. As the spinster superhero schoolteacher frolics around town in patent leather Mary Jane girlish pumps, a naughty when not scary tap dancing terrorist with accessorized purse packing boutique pistol heat.
It seems that prison overcrowding has led to the release of felons into the neighborhood, and a rising violence-ridden crime rate. Not that this tall tale is about to let truth get in the way – namely that an economic crisis plaguing the nation has led to the release of nonviolent inmates, primarily those locked up for decades on the charge of basically being addicted to drugs.
Meanwhile, delightful detours subverting the conventional action thriller, deliberately mix it up uncomfortably with darker, deranged interludes, as the town sheriff (James Badge Dale) – who for his part would rather be playing the accordion than fighting crime – becomes infatuated with Meadows. Even as she’s increasingly a serial killer suspect, while prone as well to constantly correcting his grammar. But all of which leads to surprise novelty lovemaking between this odd couple pair, in which the bubbly person of interest exclusively expresses herself sexually in bed with giggles.
And with an opening somewhat borrowing from Thelma And Louise as Miss Meadows guns down a lewd truck driver stalking her down a street, the film lures audiences into cheering on the alternately giddy and gloomy cuddly crime fighter. But filmmaker Karen Leigh Hopkins has much more on her mind than simply homicidal hijinks as entertainment, as the action moves into shock treatment sobering up spectators in the audience, when a pedophile priest is impulsively executed in his parish by the perky vigilante, at point blank range.
In any case, much of the fun here is making sense of Katie herself, possibly getting in touch after all these years – and finally freed from the Cruise religious cult stranglehold – with her inner bad girl once again. And a personal conversion in this movie that Cruise is hardly likely to approve of, but maybe that’s the point.
Then there’s the question of a more current looming right wing feminism that seems to be rearing its head on screen with this film. And Miss Meadows’ mixed messages of initially rejecting the notion of prospective housewife because ‘I don’t clean houses for a living’ – but at the same time fearlessly up to slaughtering perps, in a society with a warped moral foundation of routinely solving problems both internally and abroad with violence – just because of surrounding ‘hopeless moral decay.’ At least according to her own eager mom she phones up repeatedly, for parental approval.
At the same time, Miss Meadows is likely channeling newer notions about women connected to right wing tendencies right now, in a cynical, peculiar fusion of feminism and femininity. And as hawkish, more macho than thou women counting the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Michele Bachmann and Victoria “Fuck The EU” Nuland, emerge to occupy seats of power.
Miss Meadows is currently screening at the Tribeca Film Festival. More information is online at Tribecafilm.com.