‘The Keeping Room’ Movie Review: Badass Women Star In A Feminist Western

by kaya payseno

“The Keeping Room,” directed by Daniel Barber, tells the story of three women in the apocalyptic last days of the Civil War.  With all the men gone, two sisters (Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld) and their slave (Muna Otaru) are struggling to survive. Their tense peace is shattered when, in search of medicine, the oldest sister Augusta (Marling) captures the attention of two rogue Yankee soldiers. From there, a suspenseful standoff forces the women to bear arms and kick ass! No one comes to the rescue, these ladies defend themselves and then process the trauma of violence and rape over some moonshine.

Though “The Keeping Room” has been dubbed a feminist Western, it is not your traditional gun-slinging, wisecracking kind of flick. Expect minimal dialogue that pings in the vastness of landscape pans. The movie is moved forwards by bursts of action that come between tension packed looks and prolonged pauses. The bare bones dialogue and studied pace of the movie has been a point of criticism for some however, I think those perceived flaws are two of the aspects that make this movie thrilling. I’ve never seen a movie that drew me in so completely to the experience of the individual and then pushed me back to remind me of the insignificance of the individual in the face of a large war. The plot draws you in and the editing pushes you back. We want to become more invested in these women than the movie allows us to be which is frustrating but purposeful. The grand scenes of nature swallow the story whole, reminding us that the story of these women is just a blip.

This movie stays with you and I would highly recommend it. Leave your genre expectations at the door and just enjoy the beauty the environment and seeing some badass women beat up dudes for a change.




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