Little Woods, 2019
Signed up the 28/03/2017
It's not very often that you get a movie so small and quiet be so emotionally exhaustive and boastfully glorious. That's the only way I could really capture the essence of writer-director Nia DaCosta's near perfect Little Woods.
Ollie (Tessa Thompson) is struggling with the recent death of her mother as she tries to make ends meet, while also trying to steer clear of any more trouble upon her probation due to a drug charge (she moves/deals drugs). She's also a guardian to her younger adoptive sister (played by a very impressive Lily James) who has a little boy, who she has to make sure is financially stable before she can even think of finding purpose and investing in her own life.
In short, Ollie has her hands full, and she can do almost nothing about it since she's financially stagnant. The desperation that comes with this life of struggle is what propells the storyline and manages to sustain it without one stagger. This is a real story with real stakes, and thus can true to many people. Inadequate healthcare, monetary problems, the struggles of abortion for poor people, housing costs, mental illnesses, poverty- this film covers almost every social issue ill without ever seeming ingenuine, or glamorising these life burdens for show-and-tell. You can tell the director and cast really care about the story they're telling.
Tessa is the real star of the film as her face bears all the struggles and pain that the movie's dialogue and story itself hesitates to punctuate at times. Her acting here is simply bone-chilling, she knows exactly how to move, what expression to pull at just the right time when the movie prefers to be quiet.
The silent, secluded atmosphere the film provides is hauntingly human. The world is simply a lonely place and only the rich can get some sort of consolation or piece of mind. The rest of us have to hustle to survive and that's just the scorching truth. I found myself having to reconcile with the idea that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, what you can, when you need to for yourself and the people you love.
That's the essence of this film, and both DaCosta and Thompson deserve every other award for being able to do it so simply yet make it so riveting. The film raises a lot of questions and begs us to revisit our worldview. This is the type of film that will stick around (and with you) for a very long time. A true must-watch!
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