Little Woods (2018) Poster


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Little Woods Breaks Your Heart With Bleak Subject Matter and Powerful Performances
CANpatbuck36647 July 2019
The plot for Little Woods is pretty simple, its about Ollie (Tessa Thompson) and her sister Deb (Liliy James) and the struggles they're facing. A story like this would sometimes be about them trying to hit it big as struggling artists or it would be about the family trying to reconcile. That's not this movie, this movie isn't about some trivial issues, its about them trying to survive. They aren't just lower middle class, they're at the bottom and they're respective problems (looking for work when you have a record, unwanted pregnancy, nowhere to live etc.) reflect that. I think Little Woods does a great job of showing you those problems without sugarcoating them or trying to add fantasy, they're real, they're horrible and above all else, they're terrifying. You feel for these characters, they may have made bad choices but neither is a terrible person or even deserving of what fate has burdened them with. I was filled with dread as I watched this movie but I didn't feel like there were any false notes or anything that defied plausibility. That's definitely what the movie intended and it definitely got me to that point.

I also thought the movie was very real in how they portrayed the dynamic between Deb and Ollie. Their relationship is complicated, Ollie is trying to be the responsible older sister but she definitely is resentful for having to carry Deb. Deb feels like a failure but is also resentful of both her bad choices and her sister for holding them over her head. They love each other but there's built up baggage and it digs away at them. But their bond is also strong enough to try to overcome for their mutual betterment (even if Deb is secretly wishing Ollie wasn't leaving). It was believable and it brought me in.

What makes this movie really involving though is the performances by Tessa Thompson and Lily James. I was a little worried about Thompson after Men In Black: International but this is special work she does here. She really gets into this part, she's grounded and she helps turn Ollie into someone you want to root for. She's a complicated character and you understand her point of view through Thompson's performance. James is just as good as Deb, she's emotional and vulnerable and you can't help but feel for her. James is a huge talent and she's always good in anything she shows up in. I also liked Lance Reddick and James Badge Dale in their respective supporting roles.

On a final note, although we don't get a definitive answer on how things are going to end up for Ollie and Deb, I liked the direction they went with the ending. If you've ever had serious money problems or lived in a position where life changing events are happening on a day to day basis, the result doesn't always end up in the win or the loss column. We don't get a happy ending here but we also don't get the worst result. Life moves on whether you're ready for it or not and even when you're going through truly awful things, the sun is still going to come up the next day. Little Woods finishes with that kind of resignation and I think there was an honest quality to it. I normally hate ambiguous endings where the movie makes you decide what's going to happen but I think it fits here.

Little Woods is an unflinching look at problems that many people don't want to face. This is an excellent movie that I would have no problem recommending but it also falls into the category of great movies that I have no desire to see again (for example the 2017 movie Detroit is another movie that falls into that category). Its extremely well acted, well written and bleak as all h#!! The only thing that I can say that I would have liked is a little more style, the movie is almost shot like a documentary. I can respect that decision but some artistic flourish might have pushed the grade up a little higher yet. I'd give Little Woods an 8.5/10 which I'll bump up to a 9. It got a fairly limited release so I don't know how easy it would be to see, but I'd wholeheartedly recommend this if you get a chance to Little Woods. Just prepare yourself, it won't be fun to watch.
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Two sisters try to cope with a pregnancy and mounting debt.
TxMike6 August 2019
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our local library. While it is billed as a "western", set in North Dakota with trips to Canada, it in fact was filmed near Austin, Texas and small area towns like Taylor, Manor, and Luling, perfect locations for gritty, small town scenery.

Two sisters, one adopted, have recently lost their mom, the house is almost in foreclosure, the one sister already is a single mom with a small boy of 5 or 6 and finds herself pregnant again.

The sister not pregnant is 10 days away from the end of her probation for some past drug dealing, she is on a good track and hopes to turn her life around, but finds it hard when old dealers and customers occasionally approach her.

The spit hits the fan when foreclosure is begin, the bank says they need almost $6000 to catch up, after bargaining the bank will take $3000 within one week, and prorate the rest. With prospects for a new job in Washington state the non-pregnant sister just needs to get past this hump, surely she can sell a few drugs to preserve the home for her sister then be done with it.

The movie isn't pretty and it isn't fun to watch, but when it was over both my wife and I had the same comment, we are grateful we had hard working parents who gave us a secure home and always had funds for basic living needs. The fictional story in this movie illustrates how difficult it can be to live your life when choices aren't great and it is either do or die. Unfortunately way too many young adults are in that situation at any given time.

Good movie, gritty but realistic.
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Cinematic, suspenseful, and just a wuality feature
fruthalex11 April 2019
Got to see it last year at the Heartland Film Festival and very much enjoyed myself. For a first time writer-director I thought Nia DaCosta did a terrific job. Tessa Thompson is always great but I was very happily surprised by Lily James! I had no idea that she was Cinderella in the live action remake. All around good film, cant imagine why people on imdb dont seem to like it.
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Tense family drama... "Your choices are only as good as your options"
paul-allaer18 May 2019
"Little Woods" (2018 release; 103 min.) brings the story of sisters Ollie and Deb. As the movie opens, Ollie is burying a package of some sort in the woods somewhere in North Dakota (only much later do we learn what is in that package). We get to know Ollie, as she is coming closer to ending her probation (for dealing opioids). "You are so close, please stay out of trouble", her probation officer implores. But Ollie's house is about to be foreclosed on. Meanwhile Deb is in an even tougher spot: she lives in a trailer on a parking lot, along with her young son. Then she finds out that she is pregnant... At this point we are less than 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the feature-length debut from African-American writer-director Nia DaCosta, and what a debut this is! Almost from the get-go, the situation is tense, and the mood is grim, as Ollie and Deb are coping with a tough playing field (or as John Mellencamp once observed: "doing the best they can"). The odds are stacked against them, and it never seems to get any better, on the contrary. The movie benefits enormously from the lead performers: Tessa Thompson is masterful as Ollie, and I doubt we will see her again in such a small indie movie anytime soon ("Men In Black: International" is next up for her, if you get my drift). British actress Lily James plays Deb, and she also is clearly on her way to bigger things (next up for her: "Yesterday"). When deep into the movie Ollie and Deb assess their situation, which looks dire, Ollie wryly comments "Your choices are only as good as your options". DaCosta captures it all perfectly, and this is frankly an amazing and impressive debut film that had me on the edge of my seat throughout.

"Little Woods" premiered at last year's Tribeca film festival, yes over a year ago! No idea why it has taken this long to get a theatrical release, but better late than not I suppose. The movie opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was not attended well (5 people, including myself), which is a darn shame. Hopefully the movie will find a larger audience as it is released on other platforms. If you are in the mood for a tense family drama with outstanding lead performances, you could do a lot worse than "Little Woods". Of course I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater (if you still can), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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Intense and raw
rainabosniac13 June 2019
Lily James and Tessa Thompson both deliver stunning performances and this film explains beautifully the hardships of a working class woman's life. It's very real, raw and sometimes also quite painful to watch. Nina DaCosta did a terrific job on her first film. Absolutely loved it. It's so powerful and intense and deep and a really good film.
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an impressive performance
ops-525351 May 2019
By Tessa Thmpson, the panamanian-african-american-mexican lead actress in this rather depressing story of american realism. its upstate,i guess dakotas, near thge canadian border, its freezing cold and how to survive as an ex-criminal under circumstances dictated by the american judicial and welfare system doesnt give any free hands at all. its dire straits on the financial front, and she has to enter the tracks as criminal again, by selling a-class prescripted pills to make an income to fullfill her dream of going west to the state of washington to start a new life. but it aint that simple youll find out if you watch the film yourself. so as meat loaf once wrote,''loving you is a dirty job, but somebodys got to do it'' might be a good symbollism to this flick

ive bragged already about tessa, but should not forget her co actress lilly james, who does her best performance that ive seen by her. the filming,locations and choice of music are good, but even though its a short playlength on this flick it felt longer due to slow pace. also somethings in the plot are not thourougly enough explained, but i guess thats because im not a native american.

its a recommended watch thinks the forever grumpy old man
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Amazing !!!
sagarkumar-2539728 April 2019
Amazing movie that tells a great story and never strays away from the main character. Perfect film, beautifully written, you can feel the sister's struggle, and their determination.
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"Little Woods" is disappointing.
SnobReviews30 April 2019
"Little Woods" feels like a modern twist on a western which is cool, but I just couldn't get into it. I felt lost throughout.

In this drama, two sisters work outside the law in order to better their lives.

Overall, "Little Woods" is not a horrible film but not as great as people are saying it is. Tessa Thompson ("Annihilation") is terrific and powerful and Lily James ("Baby Driver") delivers a complex and emotionally draining performance. For these two lead actresses, I'd say that "Little Woods" is a huge stepping stone but as a whole film, I couldn't dive into it the way I had hoped.

Skip it. Follow @snobreviews for more reviews!
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Solid film- "Your choices are only as good as your options are".
midwesternhooligans28 February 2020
Simply put this film is a pretty solid first outing for Nia DaCosta and dodges many of the pitfalls that this movie could easily have fallen into. With balanced danger, tension and sympathy from both the outlaws and the law itself. No preaching or pointing fingers at anyone for the choices being made. Better still, if you look close a justification can be made for every action carried out.

Strong performances keep this film together. The setting drains your energy, but the plot keeps you going. Because after all, every single character is just trying to get by and do their "jobs."
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Hollywood never gets these movies right
thebricks16 July 2019
They hire posh actors from privileged backgrounds, write movies about Middle America by posh, privileged writers. No one can be trusted, every cop is evil, there are no social benefits or programs to help people, Everyone is flat broke and just plain stupid, everything is hopeless. No one is like they really would be in reality. Everyone speaks perfect English, no gutter slang or dialect, like they're just a bunch of Harvard grads who ended up in a bad situation in North Dakota.

Then there is the silly pro-choice agenda they are pushing too, standard fare for Hollywood these days.

I would have shut the movie off sooner, don't know why I didn't.
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A well-acted tense drama - best of its kind I've seen this year
freydis-e16 December 2019
This doesn't have a lot of reviews and it's well worth watching, the best I've seen for a while. Tessa Thompson is a fine actor, outstanding in Thor: Ragnarok (a film I didn't much like) and here she does it again in a totally different part, carrying this film almost alone. All support acting is good too.

I'm not going to detail what happens, but some of the material is unusual and interesting - a different kind of drug-dealing. That interest is kept going well, Ollie, the main character, is very sympathetic (having to deal with her idiot-pain of a sister who definitely isn't) and there's plenty of tension. The simple plot is a mite depressing, but people do live like this and Ollie's practical determination gives the hope that problems can be overcome. The direction flagged a bit at times - I'm never a fan of lingering shots - but not too often and the script was fine. Some didn't like the ending, which came as a surprise, but after ten seconds' thought, it was great!

Some reviewers complain about casting a black person in this context, and it does bother me when, in the Thor film for example, not only a Valkyrie, but the god Heimdall are both black, which is ridiculous. I don't know this area of the USA but surely in this case it's not that unreasonable.

For a well-acted tense drama there hasn't been much around recently to beat this - watch it if you get the chance.
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Great acting, bad story.
middleearthmusic28 January 2020
More propaganda, life is so tough for the poor and there's no help. Yeah right! it is also very hard to get an abortion apparently. Whoever wrote this script has a very strange view of the world. Having said all of that, the acting was great from all. That merited 4 stars.
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Better than your average Sundance-financed movie
stephen-62416 May 2019
Tight, well acted, the opioid crisis, the flat parts of Texas standing in for Nebraska/Manitoba, what's not to like?

Didn't end the way I expected, arguably the ending is flat, but I was able to buy it nevertheless. Also, Texas has yet to adopt the Alabama attack on Roe v Wade, so you don't have to boycott it on those grounds.
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Run of the Mill Poveety Story
alfonsorudriges30 October 2021
Pretty girl navigates the us social system and disastrous poverty while trying to save her sister and trying not to be a criminal. Set in a state with cold weather and stuffy parkas. Honest movie with good actors, but it feels like the nth installment of a neo-realist pulp story.
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Bad choices to justify more bad choices
tqmybbwr16 September 2021
This is exactly why certain populations of the black community won't get ahead while the privileged black liberal types do like the Director and actresses. No matter the circumstances, you make better choices. Its entertaining to watch characters make bad decisions and tension builds but it does not make a good movie. It's not the police fault for doing their job. It's not white peoples fault. It always comes down to the local community and your decisions. Hanging around people doing hard drugs and crime will make your mind less competent and gives you a record. If you're a drug dealer you are poisoning your own community and deserve time and a record. People die due to pills and hard drugs. Then to justify another bad decision with an abortion procedure due to previous bad decisions is just insane. Abortion isn't birth control. No innocent life should be snuffed out because of someone else's bad decisions. The body inside of your body isn't your body. 2 different strands of DNA proves this. Fascists justified killing innocents too by using semantics. Make abstinence and moral responsibility great again. This film is probably excellent to those who can relate to making bad decisions all the time and those who've justified killing an innocent life because life is hard. In America there is so many charities willing to help people. There's so many options to get ahead and these movies make it look like you're just going to be stuck. There's millions of well paid jobs that need to be filled as of right now. Grow up, it's not 2021 Afghanistan where women are literally being beheaded and killed for being a police officer or not wearing a certain article of clothing. They do not have options. Liberals did that. This director looks like she got ahead due to affirmative action cus this is garbage. Which btw is a option and privilege white people, Hispanic or Asian people don't have that these characters could have taken advantage of.
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Excellent first Film by Nia DaCosta
evmcelroy26 August 2021
Painful subject, excellent cast and script, good production values. Ignore those reviewers who try to put a political spin on this. They evidently have not had much experience with how tough life can be for some of us. This is a good look at a tough way of living.
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A Day in the Life
dnob-5870710 May 2019
Exceptionally acted, while plotless day in the life of these two girls. Acting an 8 but Movie is a 4, so 6 makes sense. I say again to people who rate 9's, clearly you must rate Titanic or Midnight Express 18/10 ???
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Really well done
Red_Identity12 May 2019
This is a subtle, slow-burn drama with two fantastic lead performances at its core. Recommended.
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Wonderful Timely Crime drama
roger-99-1715993 May 2019
Amazing performances and intriguing well written screenplay.
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Bloody brilliant film that is better than Winter's Bone and Leave No Trace
Boristhemoggy20 May 2019
It's sometimes hard to leave a review of a film that affected you in an emotional way. Sometimes I don't have the words and sometimes I think it's sounds too pretentious and makes the film sound like something it's not. The story is great, the photography is great, the direction is great, the sound track is great, and James and Thompson are both all over their characters. James is just getting better and better all the time but to watch her with someone as good as Thompson where they not only develop their characters but they develop how their characters interact is visual eye and mind candy of the highest order. If you like Hollywood blockbusters don't waste your time on this, this is real cinema at it's best.
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Hold onto the edge of your seat!
rafika20 June 2020
I was terrified through most of this film, worrying about dangerous turns it took from one scene to the next. The acting was great. Tessa Thompson and Lily James really worked well together and were quite believable as siblings with family issues. This film explained some of the reasons that the poor have difficulty rising out of poverty--many different forces aim to drag them back down as they aim to dream and soar. The cinematography was high quality and the dialog was believable. We enjoyed this film, but it really kept us tense and attentive from beginning to end.
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An enjoyable ride
cbax12324 October 2019
I really enjoyed this movie. It's well acted and there's a nice level of tension in most scenes. It's a little different than the trailer would sell you on so I would advise going into it blind. This film will open your eyes up to how certain people are forced to live. Forsure worth the watch
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Hard times
imursel1 December 2019
Acting: 7 Story: 7 Production values: 4 Suspence - thriller level: 5 Action: none... Mystery - unknown: none... Romance level: 4 Film noir ~ neo noir density: 4 Comedy elements: none... Overall: 7
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Brilliant realistic portrayl
uncom-5286620 September 2020
This is a well made film. It creates empathy through great plotting, dialog and character development. Ive never been to North Dakota or faces these challenges in life but I now feel empathy for those in these situations (and Im sure there are many).

Tessa Thompson shows her incredible range, playing a completely different person then in Sorry to Bother You. Respect for dynamism has grown for me. The rest of the cast is also great.

This movie is so well made it feels like a documentary.

For a well directed, written and acted film about serious subject matter - this is it.
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Good acting, the story is really hard
yushikou25 August 2020
2 sisters sell the drugs to make their life's better. The acting is very good. The story is very realistic. Cross the line: cross borderline to México to but drugs and cross the border of laws. There are 2 means. The life's of sisters is very hard, I think this film is good. This is not entertaining film but I like this.
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