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The Keeping Room on VOD and DVD

Monday, 24 October 2016 23:00 Written by 

The Keeping Room - out now on DVD and VOD“The Keeping Room” is a challenging, Western-style tale about two sisters and their slave woman fighting for survival near the end of the American Civil War, 1865. Living on basic rations and with no medical supplies, the trio attract the unwelcome attention of a pair of brutish, cold-blooded Union scouts (Sam Worthington – “Avatar”, “Clash of the Titans” and Kyle Soller – Poldark, You, Me and the Apocalypse).

Brit Marling (Babylon, “Another Earth”) stars as Augusta, the older of the sisters, who must hastily adopt the skills of a mother to protect her sibling, Louise (Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”, “Ender’s Game”). The slave, Mad, is played by Muna Otaru (Whitechapel); she finds her relationship to the sisters evolves as trust and teamwork become essential. Outgunned and miles from the next settlement, they stand or fall together.

The female characters in this movie are strong, intelligent and believable. They retain an air of vulnerability but, refreshingly, are generally not the screaming, mentally and/or physically uncoordinated victims so common in films.

Marling is superb in the lead role, stoic and constantly thinking on her feet whilst retaining some warmth. Steinfeld plays Louise with more fragility but also as a teenager on the cusp of adulthood who has a lot of conflicting emotions bubbling under the surface. Otaru’s portrayal is an eye-opener, subtly walking the high wire between subservience and independence.

This is a film that is not afraid to take its time before suddenly ramping up the tension, creating a stark and explosive contrast. The sense of place and time is finely crafted, and the possibility of a sudden death is always lurking thanks to a particularly shocking and bloody opening scene. Director Daniel Barber was previously responsible for “Harry Brown”, a film that shares this piece’s narrow focus and tense showdowns.

The cinematography is uniformly excellent, whether the camera is lingering on lush fields and forests in the American South, or creeping around the sisters’ farmhouse interior under cover of darkness, with just the flickering flames of their lamps to guide the way.

I found myself completely engaged by “The Keeping Room”; it can be a little slow in places and quite challenging in others, but the subject matter is presented in a realistic manner and the story twists its way to a satisfying climax.

Special features include:

  • The making of “The Keeping Room”
  • Audio commentary with writer Julia Hart and star Brit Marling

“The Keeping Room” (2014) is out now on Video On Demand and DVD, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 91 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £12.99 on DVD, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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