It’s 1865, it’s 2015. Two Union soldiers exploit a woman (Brit Marling), her younger sister (Hailee Steinfeld) and a slave (Muna Otaru) as Sherman’s army approaches in Daniel Barber’s minimalist Civil War-era Western “The Keeping Room.” The exploitation-style premise is neatly sketched—a variation on a modern-day home invasion thriller with strong female characters—and the Georgia environs are lovingly pictured. The sustenance living of the three women also suggest contemporary post-apocalyptic narratives. (“What if it’s the end of the world, and we’re the last one’s left?”) The ever-serious, ever-watchable Marling is the film’s best asset, an island of intelligence within the litany of pain and the succession of visual flourishes. With Sam Worthington, Kyle Soller. 95m. (Ray Pride)
“The Keeping Room” opens Friday, December 11 at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.