Daniel Barber's The Keeping Room takes place in the waning days of the American civil war, telling the story of three woman, two sisters and an African American slave, who find themselves forced to stand up for themselves and their home when rogue Union soldiers arrive with vile intentions. Praised by many as a Feminist Western, The Keeping Room uses the story of these three woman to capture the cruelty of humanity, with the film's best attribute being it's ability to showcase the downstream effect hate, aggression, and cruelty bring. Thematically the film captures how woman are essentially second class citizens in the worldview of humanity, using the wartime as an allegorical device in illustrating the trickle down effect of violence, war, and cruelty. This is a film that almost feels at odds with itself at times, as the two main antagonists simply come off as elaborate caricatures of male sexual aggression for most of the film, only to be given depth towards the end, even becoming semi-sympathetic characters when the film decides they are merely a biproduct of wartime, desensitized to violence, cruelty and death. From a filmmaker perspective, The Keeping Room struggles at times to effectively build tension, with much of the film's running time, outside of the strong finale, feeling far less engaging and intense than it should be. Some of this has to do with the one-dimensional characters of male aggression mentioned above early on in the film, which in turn makes The Keeping Room feel far more artificial than it should, attempting to force its message on the viewer in a way that denies the viewer true emotional impact until the third act. Daniel Barber's The Keeping Room is a strange blend of Western, Horror, and Social allegory, being a flawed but interesting cinematic experience.
Leave a Reply.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.