film reel image

film reel image

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Little Woods 2018 * * * Stars


"I'll figure something out". That's the understatement of the year, especially if you're looking a little homely and scraping the leavings of some podunk, North Dakota town.

So OK, if you dig movies where actresses like Tessa Thompson and Lily James leave their standard comfort zone to beautify less, then 2018's Little Woods is for you. If you don't, well stick to those cutesy rom-coms, bad sequels, and follow-up blockbusters.

Anyway Little Woods is a down-and-dirty drama with mildew ball bearings, populated by townie lower-class and layman laborers just waiting to get out (like all get-out). Colorless Upper Midwest weather, characters looking non-sexy while wearing hand-me-downs, strip clubs with bad music in the background, oxycodone rationing, musty bars. Basically "Woods" provides the viewer with a world that no one would ever wanna vacation to (or um, live in). In truth, the film feels like something Scott Cooper might have made in between Crazy Heart and that steel mill vehicle with Christian Bale. "I'm sorry, it's been a rough time for a lot of people". Indeed.

Peace Garden State settings and private bops aside, Little Woods is about two sisters. One has a kid and is pregnant with another on the way. The other is adopted, a reformed drug dealer, and the occupant of her dead mother's house about to be foreclosed upon. Both are pretty much cleaned out until an opportunity to cross into Canada is presented so they can fix their situations financially and terminally.

In retrospect, "Woods" is pretty predictable when it needn't be. And its drab journey and opening act pack more of a wallop than the crack, contented ending. But hey, director Nia DaCosta (in her feature debut) commits to every shot, gets raw performances from her cast, flexes self-effacing, and creates atmosphere a la environs. "Little" giant.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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