Monday, November 5, 2018

Movie Review: "Little Woods" (2018)

Director: Nia DaCosta
Year: 2018
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

A woman on parole for smuggling prescription drugs across the border is trying to walk the straight and narrow. When life, and her sister, bring a lot of problems that require immediate attention, it forces her back into a life she thought she left behind.

Little Woods 2018 Tessa Thompson Lily James Nia DaCosta
"You're so close. Please stay out of trouble." (Image Source)
What would you do and how far would you be willing to go to help your family and save your family home? "Little Woods" is written and directed by Nia DaCosta and serves as her feature film writing and directing debut. This is a movie about a young woman named Ollie (Tessa Thompson), who is finishing up the last days of her probation after being caught smuggling prescription drugs across the border. Ollie would go to Canada to get drugs for her dying mother, and to sell to other members of her Little Woods community who couldn't otherwise get proper healthcare stateside. She has since left that life behind and wants to get a legitimate 9-5 job. Her family home, however, is about to be repossessed by the bank, and her sister, Deb (Lily James), who has been living in a camper in a parking lot, is unexpectedly pregnant with no insurance and doesn't have enough money to actually have the baby. Due to laws in their state, Deb also has no place to terminate the pregnancy should she choose that route. Now, looking to save their home and help her sister, Ollie returns to the life she thought she left behind.
Little Woods 2018 Tessa Thompson Lily James Nia DaCosta
"I'm starting to see why Canada's so appealing to people." (Image Source)
"Little Woods" is a methodically paced slice-of-life drama about family, the lack of affordable healthcare in the United States, and the troubles people face living in rural North Dakota. It's a bleak subject matter, but these are harsh times for many in the Great Plains. The slower pacing might be a problem for many viewers, and truth be told, the story does feel like it drags a bit from time to time. Luckily, we are able to empathize with the characters and the problems they face in their unique situation, so this helps us forgive its pacing issues. Tessa Thompson is one of our favorite working actors, and once again and to no one's surprise, she offers a tremendous performance as Ollie. We feel the burden Ollie experiences as a woman who desperately wants to do right by her family, but will suffer immeasurable consequences if she violates her parole again. Lily James is also good as Deb, who is sort of a mess and has more problems than she can count. These two women have a marvelous, believable chemistry as adopted siblings whose bonds of sisterhood are tested time and time again. "Little Woods" also does a splendid job highlighting the insufficiencies of the U.S. healthcare system. This includes how expensive and inaccessible it is, especially for those in rural areas of the country, even more so for women, whether they can afford it or not. This scathing indictment is not lost on us. The fact that it is easier to take the risk of smuggling drugs from Canada instead of simply walking into a doctor's office for affordable care is insane to us.
Little Woods 2018 Tessa Thompson Lily James Nia DaCosta
"Your choices are only as good as your options are." (Image Source)
We enjoyed "Little Woods" despite a couple of pacing flaws. It has a lot of tense moments and has very relatable characters who endear themselves to the audience, even if they continually break the law. Nia DaCosta's first-time effort is commendable, and we can't wait to see what she does next.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~100%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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