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Parents' Guide to

The Most Hated Woman in America

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Abrasive activist fights prayer; cursing and violence.

Movie NR 2017 90 minutes
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This fictionalized portrait is an intriguing curiosity, compelling, and off-putting simultaneously. The Most Hated Woman in America is unvarnished in its presentation of a crude and difficult woman, who insulted and dismissed even those closest to her yet still stood up for Constitutional principles of freedom and equality. Sometimes the narrative can feel like a hammer treating the audience like a nail. The script calls for no more than a one-note performance, and the talented Melissa Leo obligingly delivers it. As Madalyn, she is over-the-top abrasive, mean to her pious father, even though he supports her into adulthood, withering to the loyal son who would rather be with his wife and child, and tactlessly dismissive of just about everyone else. What's great is the way the movie pays tribute to Murray O'Hair's historical role as disrupter and awareness-raiser, although it curiously omits her Communist Party connections. The story romps in and out of sequence, but flashbacks are sharply executed to provide clarifying information and useful histories between characters. Greed and exploitation of human foibles are themes, and they are practiced by both the villains and "heroes" here.

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