Writer: Julia Hart (Screenplay)
Starring: Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, Sam Worthington, Kyle Soller, Ned Dennehy
Plot: Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three women must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.
Tagline – Some things are worth fighting for
Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Slow & Effective
Story: The Keeping Room starts as during the civil war, Augusta (Marling), Louise (Steinfeld) and their slave Mad (Otaru) must work together to look after their family home together, while the men are out at war, they are getting by with Louise wanting to do more than just work around the house.
The women soon become targets for the rogue soldiers Moses (Worthington) and Henry (Soller), without the normal support they must defend their home before the war comes to them.
Thoughts on The Keeping Room
Characters – Augusta is the lady of the house, keeping Louise in line, while making it fair for everyone under the roof, no matter what their status is. She will be the one that will go for help and risk her life to protect the rest. Louise is the younger of the two women, she doesn’t like being forced into work believing the slave should do it all, her failure to follow instructions only makes it difficult for Augusta. Mad is the slave that has been welcomed as part of the family, joining in the defence of the home too. Moses is one of the soldiers that is leaving a path of destruction as they run away from the war. He targets the women’s home and the women to make his own for the time being.
Performances – Brit Marling is good in the leading role, we see strong performances from the three women if we are being honest, Hailee Steinfeld continues to show her ability, where as unknown Muna Otaru should be a name we pay more attention too. Sam Worthington does a fine job in the villainous role where we see him deliver lines in a disturbing manner.
Story – The story follows three women that must put their classes a side during the American Civil War to protect their home from rogue soldiers that only want to do unthinkable things to them. We get to see how the women do have their own problems to deal without the soldier adding to them, the unsure feeling about whether they will have the men in their lives returning to them. Once the soldiers arrive it does become a survival story which is good, it shows how difficult and risky it would be for either side just to attack they must focus on defending. The pacing of the story seems solid with giving away too much too early before leading to the night of the event.
Western – The film does use the western themes in the elements of the war time western not the wild west style it works well enough with the rogue soldiers trying to take a home.
Settings – The film uses the lone settings of the house in the middle of nowhere and the paths leading to it, to show us how isolated people would become during the war time.
Final Thoughts – This is a slow-moving western that shows the effects of the civil war on the women left behind that could face their own uncertain future as the men out at war. It has strong performances and a dark feeling about what could happen next.
Overall: darkly depressive look at the American Civil War.