A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Raises/explores meaty topics and issues -- e.g., why can't people afford medication or treatment, and why does it take so long to get a doctor's appointment? Why are prices so high in this small town, and jobs so low-paying? How do these issues affect our country as a whole?
Positive Role Models
The main character is a powerful woman who struggles mightily and perseveres, although she chooses an illegal road.
Violence & Scariness
A woman hits a man, hard, and is (literally) thrown out into the street. A man shoves her up against a wall. A man grabs a woman's arm, threatening her. Slapping, hitting.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A scene takes place inside a strip club, with scantily clad women pole-dancing on stage. Flirting, hand-holding. One character kisses another on the head. Brief sex-related dialogue.
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Strong language scattered throughout, with uses of "f--k," "mothef----r," "s--t," "ass," and "turd." Uses of "Jesus" (as an exclamation).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character smuggles and sells illegal pills. She and a secondary character are referred to as "drug dealers." "Oxy" (OxyContin) is mentioned by name. Several different kinds of pills are shown. Main character gets drunk in a bar and drives drunk. Other scenes of drinking and characters being drunk. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Little Woods is a drama about a woman (Tessa Thompson) who's forced to go back to dealing drugs, even after being arrested, in order to pay for her mortgage and her sister's abortion. Violent scenes include a man pushing a woman up against a wall, a man grabbing a woman's arm and threatening her, a woman hitting a man in a bar, and a woman slapping a man. Drug dealing is at the forefront of the story; OxyContin and other pills are shown. The main character gets very drunk in one scene, and drinking, drunkenness, and cigarette smoking are common. A scene set inside a gentleman's club shows scantily clad women pole-dancing. Language includes several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Despite the heavy material, this is an excellent movie with a gentle, atmospheric touch that focuses on characters and moods, and it's quite moving. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
An exceptional feature writing and directing debut from Nia DaCosta, this drama takes a dreary, pessimistic situation and, through its strong characters, makes it touchingly relatable. Little Woods deals with several current American troubles, from the difficulty of getting timely and affordable healthcare to the unfair economy of a town, once rich from fracking, now left with everything overpriced and money scarce. Yet the film never deals head-on with any of these things; they're carefully woven into the hard-luck narrative, which is told so gently -- without soap opera hysterics -- that it's difficult not to be moved.
Thompson, in the lead role, is tremendous. Ollie has carved out a tough armor for herself; she has an unending perseverance but is also capable of showing weariness and even hope. The moment when her small nephew crawls into her lap and asks her to shut her eyes is mistily gorgeous. James equals her, even though her character is weaker and more in need of help -- she's still fully dimensional. Behind the camera, DaCosta bathes Little Woods' doleful, cluttered sets in soft, chilly light, capturing a small-town feel and getting to the essence of the emotions of characters who keep getting back up and trying again.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.