sun 21/07/2024

LFF 2014: The Keeping Room | reviews, news & interviews

LFF 2014: The Keeping Room

LFF 2014: The Keeping Room

Rousing feminist Western featuring a powerful performance from Brit Marling

Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld and Munu Otaru take up arms

Indie actress Brit Marling takes aim at a rigid power structure in this tense and pared down female-led revisionist Western from British director Daniel Barber. Set towards the end of the American Civil war three women are grappling to survive and make sense of it all whilst the men battle it out and the world around them is burning to the ground.

Louise (Hailee Steinfeld), Augusta (Brit Marling) and Mad (Muna Otaru) make up this brave brood, two sisters and their slave, who are forced to come together to fight against a couple of rogue soldiers intent on taking them down. All the women turn in great performances but Marling's powerful physicality stands out. At one point when their home is under attack, Augusta is forced to fight fire with her clothes and in a bold move whips off her robe to reveal the strength hidden beneath the surface. Steinfeld proves her versatility with a role which renders her powerless and meek against intruders, playing out in stark contrast to her turn as the confident Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers' True Grit.

Quieter moments, such as when Augusta and Mad get drunk and discuss love, are intimate and inviting yet always tinged with the threat of violence and rape. These women may let down their guard with one another but their eyes and ears are tellingly alert to danger, pointing to the horrors women have suffered and still endure.

Barber’s lean style is complementary to Julia Hart’s rousing rebel yell of a screenplay which plays with the idea that strength comes from solidarity and progress is made through a methodical plan of action.

All the women turn in great performances but Marling's powerful physicality stands out


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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