Trauma and grief are things that everyone experiences at some point in their lives, to varying extents, but which are dealt with differently by each individual. For some, the grieving process is finite while for others, it can last for a lifetime. Miss Meadows explores the ways in which trauma has shaped the life of one peculiar woman who is so much more than what meets the eye.
Mary Meadows (Katie Holmes), is a very polite woman of almost childlike innocence who enjoys wearing 1960s style dresses and tap shoes. She works as a substitute first-grade teachers and lives alone in her small house, the only real adult interaction she has being in the form of phone calls to her mother. As far as anyone is concerned, Miss Meadows wouldn’t hurt a fly, but unbeknownst to them, she is a vigilante who carries a small semi-automatic pistol in her purse and routinely kills criminals who hurt or attempt to hurt herself and others.
Miss Meadows’ quiet life gets shaken up when two very different men enter the picture. The first is the town sheriff (James Badge Hale), who finds himself falling for Miss Meadows even as he believes she’s the vigilante that he’s been searching for. The other is Skylar (Callan Mulvey), a recently-released felon and child molester who’s been loitering around her school and students. In between exploring an adult romantic relationship for the very first time, trying to stay out of prison, and doing everything in her power to keep her students safe from more than one predator, Miss Meadows soon finds herself in over her head.
Miss Meadows is a truly unconventional crime drama, for myriad reasons. Chief among them is that the vigilante is someone who is revealed to being suffering from a serious trauma and is mentally ill. While this mental illness isn’t the inherent cause of her actions, it is actually quite refreshing to see a mentally ill heroine, as well as see a mentally ill person portrayed as someone who is rational, compassionate, smart, and cunning. In fact, her trauma places Miss Meadows in the unique position of being able to see and address her students in ways that other adults cannot.
Then there’s the fact that the title character of Miss Meadows doesn’t “look” like a badass, gun-toting avenger. Miss Meadows looks like a housewife from decades past; ordinary, and even a bit fragile. In many small ways, Miss Meadows drives home the point that ordinary people can make a huge difference in their communities and the world at large. Miss Meadows has no campaign, and no sidekicks. She’s just one person who does what she can, when and where she can.
While vigilantism is quite the controversial issue, it’s undebatable that child molesters, rapists, and abductors cause irrevocable, lasting damage that has ripple effects for many generations to come. In cases of sexual abuse in particular, the consequences of that have been known to destroy entire families from the inside out. Many people often speak of what they would do in a given situation, but few have the courage to actually step up and do something when they find themselves in a position to do so. Miss Meadows, above all else, is the story of someone willing to inconvenience themselves and put both life and liberty at risk to defend those who cannot defend themselves.
I give this one 4.25 stars.