Movie Review: LITTLE WOODS

LITTLE WOODS was written and helmed by Nia DaCosta in her directorial debut and stars Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Luke Kirby, Lance Reddick and James Badge Dale. The movie follows two estranged sisters that are driven to extremes when their mother dies, leaving them with one week to pay back her mortgage.

Little Woods, North Dakota, a fracking boomtown well beyond its prime.Ollie is trying to survive the last few days of her probation after getting caught illegally running prescription pills over the Canadian border. But when her mother dies, she is thrust back into the life of her estranged sister Deb (James), who is facing her own crisis with an unplanned pregnancy and a deadbeat ex. The two find they have one week to settle the mortgage on their mother’s house or face foreclosure. As bills and pressure mount, Ollie faces a choice: whether to return to a way of life she thought she’d left behind for just one more score or to leave it all behind. A taught and affecting thriller about sisters pushed to extremes from award-winning director Nia DaCosta.

Little Woods takes place in small town North Dakota and follows Ollie (Tessa Thompson), a former pill pusher who’s in her final days of serving probation. She’s built a new life making an honest buck by operating a small food truck and selling coffee and snacks to oil rig workers but she has dreams of moving away and starting over. Ollie already has her hands full with life’s obstacles as she deals with the mortgage as well as her probation officer, Carter (Lance Reddick), who’s reminding her that she’s so close to the finish line and to stay on the stright and narrow.

What happens is, her sister Deb (Lily James) shows up with kid in-tow and needs some desperate help. Deb is pregnant and wants to get an abortion (maybe she should’ve used protection or not have slept around?) and Ollie feels obligated to help her. There’s also Deb’s boyfriend Ian (James Badge Dale) who wants her to keep the baby but he’s not the most reliable person to help raise a child. Ollie decides to take a chance and push some pills one last time to make enough cash to help Deb but standing in her way is Bill (Luke Kirby), the local drug dealer who wants a cut or else. In the end, Ollie shows Deb just how much family means to her as she risks everything to help her sister out.

Bottom line is, Little Woods is a drama that stars Tessa Thompson in a strong female led performance about this former drug dealer who wants a better life for herself but she’s pulled back into the dangerous world she comes from to help her troubled sister. Needless to say, the emotions are high and low in this dark family drama. As gritty as the movie is, it kind of sends a positive message that you can find a way to escape but it might not be the way you’d planned. The abortion thing is also a hot topic that divides so many people. Little Woods is the directorial debut for Nia DaCosta and I thought she did a good job telling the story and bringing it to life on screen. This is a story that a lot of people, men and women, will be able to relate to. Little Woods is now playing in select theaters and On Demand.

Distributor: NEON

Run Time: 103 Minutes

Rated: R

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