Movie review / ‘Little Woods’ (M)

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WRITER/director Nia DaCosta’s low-budget film examines poverty and love in an environment of defiance to the laws of man.

In a small oil town closer to the US/Canada border than to North Dakota capital Bismarck or largest city Fargo, Ollie (Tessa Thompson) is on probation for selling drugs. Her pregnant sister Deb (Lily James) wants a termination that she can’t legally get in that state. They are living on the smell of the figurative oily rag. Cross-border movement is relatively uncomplicated.

The film is a small-scale saga that has been described as a modern Western. I think that a more apt potted description is a modern social drama about two vulnerable women surviving in a male-dominated community.

It’s independent filmmaking with six production companies of whom you’ve probably never heard and never will hear of again. The Sundance Institute has supported the film, along with a number of companies providing equipment and services. These behind-the-camera involvements bespeak people of goodwill and conscience getting involved in a project that they believe in.

The pace is leisurely. The emotional values are gently powerful (if that makes sense). It’s unlikely to lift your spirits but its purpose is more worthy than that.

At Dendy and Hoyts Woden

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'Little Woods' (M) **
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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