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Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women - two sisters and one African-American slave - must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army. Written by
Lots of films attest to the fact that slow and ponderous doesn't ruin a movie's chance of success but as Daniel (Michael Caine starrer Harry Brown's director) Barber's slow and steady The Keeping Room also attest's to, slow and ponderous certainly doesn't make a movie and while The Keeping Room has moments of brilliance and sprinklings of sound shattering violence, this Civil War set drama fails to properly engage.
The Keeping Room does offer a refreshing female orientated look at the American landscape of the Civil War war-torn country with Brit Marling's Augusta featuring alongside her sister Louise played by an increasingly grown up Hailee Steinfeld and house keep Mad played somewhat underwhelming by Muna Otaru and while Barber and his screenwriter Julia Hart should be commended for offering up a different take on the usual tropes of similar such films, The Keeping Room's overbearing sense of coldness and underdeveloped characters unhinges most of the films solid ground work.
For a film with such a confined setting and small field of participants, The Keeping Room needed to make better use of its recognisable faces and while the always good Marling does well with limited scope and Steinfeld and the increasingly obscure like Sam Worthington as a hard drinking soldier have some nice moments, this won't be a film fans of any of these actors will be recalling in years to come thanks to a blunted message; it's hard to know exactly what the film is trying to say or what it is, a lacking home invasion thriller or commentary on females trapped in the Civil War landscape and at the end of the day not even an ending out of a more rounded film can up the film to another level.
There's glimmers of a fairly astounding film here but they're only that, mere glimmers and when a low budgeted film such a this has such a talented cast and potential, The Keeping Room feels like a rather forgettable missed opportunity and despite its originality, Barber's film is not equal to the sum of its parts.
2 raccoon bites out of 5
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