NEON // Directed by Nia DaCosta // Starring Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Luke Kirby, James Badge Dale, Lance Reddick
You should watch LITTLE WOODS (2018)
One of the major problems with having access to so many movies at your fingertips is deciding which of them to choose. All of the algorithms the various streamers use to put content in your face don’t always introduce you to the hidden gems' content within their plethora of options. That’s where film critics can be of great assistance; we have watched so many so you don’t have to. Tonight, You Should Watch Little Woods which is streaming on a multitude of platforms in both the US and the UK.
This is Nia DaCosta’s directorial feature film debut, but she has since directed Candyman (2021) and is at the helm of this year's The Marvels (2023), which is shaping up to be a major part of the MCU. In her first two films, DaCosta has proven to have a keen visual style and a strong understanding of the characters. It takes a few films for a director to prove themselves as an auteur, but DaCosta has a clear voice that shines through even in this debut. It’ll be interesting to see if her voice is dampened by the MCU factory, but a few auteur filmmakers' voices, like Chloé Zhao, Ryan Coogler, and Taika Waititi for example, have managed to still shine through the superhero films.
The next reason to move Little Woods to the top of your watchlist is its leading ladies. Tessa Thompson plays Ollie who is almost off probation after serving time for smuggling prescription pills across the Canadian border. Lily James plays Ollie’s sister Deb whose financial woes put Ollie into a tough situation and the easiest way to get the money they need may be too risky. Thompson and James have proven themselves time and time again. Thompson has been a major player in the MCU and Creed franchises, but it’s her performances in movies like Annihilation and Sorry to Bother You that allow her to flex her talents. James shined in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Darkest Hour and slips into the supporting role like a foot into a glass slipper lost while running away from a ball. The two have great chemistry in this film, but it is Thompson who carries so much of the emotion the film dives into.
Little Woods is a movie with a lot to say about the world we have found ourselves in, specifically about health care and prescription pills. This is a drama first with some suspense built into the story. While having only seen it once, it left such an impression that I’ve not been able to forget its quiet existence.
- Jon Berk, 14th February 2023