In Nia Dia DaCosta's upcoming indie film Little Woods, in theaters April 19, Tessa Thompson plays a young woman who wants out. She was born and raised in a part of the country often ignored by those who have no real roots there; rural North Dakota has been buried under a mountain of painkiller and opioid addictions that have affected generations of families like that of Thompson's character, Ollie. But in this exclusive clip from Little Woods, it's Ollie's sister Deb (played by Lily James) who is struggling, as she is pregnant, broke, and alone, looking for help where there seems to be none — at least not for less than thousands of dollars she doesn't have. And that's just to have her baby.
This clip is an inciting incident for Little Woods, which leads to Ollie's return to dealing in order to support her sister who is already a single mother to a young child. Their mother recently died, despite Ollie's attempts to access and smuggle the medication she needed illegally from Canada. That's why she's on probation in the first place. But their mother's passing left Ollie with a fractured relationship in a town wrecked by the rapid rise and plummeting fall of fracking.
Because what the hospital worker tells Deb is true: According to Business Insider, the average cost to have a baby in the US, without complications during delivery, is $10,808. For a young woman like Deb who has no other family or work opportunities other than her low-paying serving job, that kind of price tag is unfathomable. Which is why Ollie is even beginning to consider returning to illegal activity, selling prescription drugs to struggling workers who came to town for the fracking work that has since dried up, another reality for many in the region, according to Reuters.
“You're so stuck if you become pregnant and you can't afford to keep the baby,” James told Bustle last year. “You don't have health insurance and you can’t afford to have an abortion. It leaves people completely stuck, and our film it shows how people have to make these really awful choices and break the law just to get by."
Deb has a boyfriend (James Badge Dale), but he's abusive and an alcoholic, and they live in an illegally parked trailer. An abortion is out of the option: The nearest and only clinic in the state is in Fargo, more than 300 miles away. This is not just a fictional plot element: the Red River Women's Clinic is the only option for women looking to have a legal abortion in North Dakota. The state remains a battleground for abortions — this week, it became the third to ban a procedure known as dilation and evacuation, according to USA Today.
Little Woods tells a fictional story of two sisters in a very real American scenario which asks how far someone should go to help their family, even if it means potentially harming themselves in the process.