Miss Virginia Image

Miss Virginia

By Alex Saveliev | October 18, 2019

Miss Virginia marks director R.J. Daniel Hanna’s feature-length debut, based on Erin O’Connor’s first feature-length screenplay. It’s quite commendable that the end result is so assured. Sure, it’s a “message movie” through and through, but a decently-made one, with a strong central performance by Orange Is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba. Miss Virginia may never truly escape its made-for-TV aesthetic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your vote.

“…the nation’s first-ever Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income children.”

O’Connor’s script is based on a true story of Virginia Walden Ford (Aduba), whose advocacy for parent empowerment led to the Congress enacting the nation’s first-ever Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income children. Set in 2003, the film follows Virginia’s futile attempts to place her struggling 15-year-old son James (Niles Fitch) in a posh, $7,000-a-year educational facility. Scrubbing toilets doesn’t get her any closer to qualifying for a loan. After an inspiring high school auditorium speech, Virginia almost involuntarily turns into a crusader.

Next step? The White House, of course, where Virginia tracks down Congressman Cliff Williams (Matthew Modine). He dismisses her at first, so she goes door-to-door, collecting petitions for improved education. In the meantime, young James resorts to selling drugs so that he can get cool kicks from a local hoodlum – it’s not long before tragedy strikes, shifting Virginia’s mission into high gear.

Miss Virginia (2019)

Directed by R.J. Daniel Hanna

Written by Erin O'Connor

Starring Uzo Aduba, Matthew Modine, Aunjanue Ellis, Niles Fitch, Vanessa Williams, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Miss Virginia Image

"…As a heartfelt tribute to an important historical figure, it works just fine."

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