The Girl Next Door
Katie Holmes Goes 'Pulp Fiction Mary Poppins'
By Bryan Enk
Katie Holmes is back, and she's packing some heat.
The former Mrs. Tom Cruise has been working steadily, if unspectacularly, since breaking free from the shackles of her high-profile marriage. Now, we have her latest bid for career resurgence, via a demented turn in the title role of "Miss Meadows," which had its world premiere this week at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Imagine Jodie Foster's "The Brave One" (2007) as made by cinematic schlockmeister John Waters and you're almost there. Written and directed by Karen Leigh Hopkins, "Miss Meadows" takes place in an "Edward Scissorhands"-esque alternate suburban universe. This world is patrolled by the ever-perky title character, a "pulp fiction Mary Poppins" (as trumpeted in the film's press notes) whose big smile and positive attitude comes with a mean vigilante streak.
Holmes isn't known for toting a gun in her movies (she slapped Christian Bale — twice — for doing just that in "Batman Begins" before she was forced to pick one up to defend a small boy from a band of lunatics), and this marks her first time portraying a stone-cold killer. However, the dark tone and dangerous world of "Miss Meadows" isn't new territory for the actress. Sure, she'll always be sweet little Joey Potter on "Dawson's Creek" in our hearts, but Holmes was also the pill-popping rich girl in Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" (1997), the high school punk dream girl in the vastly underrated "Disturbing Behavior" (1998), the club-going L.A. chick looking to score drugs in Doug Liman's "Go" (1999), and the doomed Southern belle sleeping with seemingly every fella in town in Sam Raimi's "The Gift" (2000).
After nonsense like "Mad Money" (2008), the ill-conceived remake of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010), and "Jack and Jill" (2011), Holmes has a chance for an art-house hit with "Miss Meadows." Prairie Miller at Critical Women on Film believes that "much of the fun [in the film] 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." The role of a schoolteacher who blows away baddies and sweetly giggles during sex (with James Badge Dale's clueless sheriff) makes for "a personal conversion that Cruise is hardly likely to approve of, but maybe that's the point."
Holmes's upcoming projects include "Days and Nights," a contemporary family drama inspired by Chekhov's "The Seagull" co-starring Allison Janney, William Hurt, Ben Whishaw, and Jean Reno; "Mania Days," a romantic drama set in a psychiatric hospital; "The Giver," the adaptation of Lois Lowry's fantasy novel that hits theaters on Aug. 15; and a TV pilot written by Richard LaGravenese that's a sort of modern-day take on "Dangerous Liaisons."
And she's loving the work.
"It's fun when it's more personal because it makes you more invested — you want to hold up your end of the bargain for them," said Holmes in a recent interview with The Wrap regarding the indie filmmakers she's gotten to work with recently. "So it's been exciting and rewarding, and I've had a chance to play a lot of different characters than the ones I've played before."
"Miss Meadows" will have its third and final screening at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET at the AMC Loews Village 7 in NYC.