Gender equality in film is one of the biggest subjects being discussed within modern cinema circles. In the past, neither actresses nor female filmmakers have been represented in the way they deserved. Thankfully, recent history has shown the tide to be shifting, with releases that have felt completely natural. Written and directed by Nia DaCosta, with Tessa Thompson and Lily James starring, Little Woods is a movie focused on its characters, resulting in a grounded story that exceptionally highlights the struggles of modern America.
This tale follows Ollie and Deb, two sisters battling to survive through their financial and situational issues. Tessa Thompson and Lily James play the siblings, with James Badge Dale, Luke Kirby and Lance Reddick in supporting roles.
The confidence that this film has is truly remarkable. Its small scale allows it to be cemented in reality, and within a world that many viewers can relate to. With this foundation set, we follow the character piece that unfolds. Thompson and James are superb in their roles, displaying individuals that will keep viewers emotionally invested from early on. You want a positive outcome for both of them, and undoubtedly feel their pain when they stumble. In these moments of turmoil, the movie is able to build tension in a way that is not unnecessarily exaggerated, transferring anxiousness to the viewers, so we can experience the events as though they were happening to us.
Trying their best to survive daily life, the sisters that lead this film go on a journey that has them facing some of societies biggest issues. Poverty, abortion and the drug crisis are just a few of the elements that are interwoven within the tapestry of this movie. Another filmmaker may have taken a more overtly political approach and tried to send a blatant message when it comes to these components. However, what DaCosta masterfully does is present these pieces as a natural part of the whole puzzle. The narrative is not about these portions, but they still play a vital role in painting the picture of the modern America that this story is set.
As a first time filmmaker, what DaCosta has created here has the technical skill of a veteran. The pacing is exceptional, and the direction makes us feel as though we are living right alongside the characters. Other aspects such as cinematography and score add to this as well, establishing the concentrated environments for our actors to shine.
Little Woods is an example of grounded cinema at its very best. Thrusted by its relatable and well-written personalities, this is a film that will have you invested right from the beginning. The unfortunate truth is, movies like this are often released unnoticed by most, when they should be praised for how great they are. Even if a film has a small marketing budget, their quality should hopefully carry them towards story-hungry eyes. One hopes that Little Woods gets wide attention, as it is a release that deserves all the exposure it can get.