Rating: 8 of 10
A gut-wrenching feminist Western. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of life for women during the Civil War, nor should it, so prepare yourself.
Synopsis: “In this radically reimagined American Western set towards the end of the Civil War, Southerner Augusta encounters two renegade, drunken soldiers who are on a mission of pillage and violence. After escaping an attempted assault, Augusta races back to the isolated farmhouse that she shares with her sister Louise and their female slave Mad. When the pair of soldiers track Augusta down intent on exacting revenge, the trio of women are forced to take up arms to fend off their assailants, finding ways to resourcefully defend their home––and themselves––as the escalating attacks become more unpredictable and relentless.” (source)
My thoughts: THE KEEPING ROOM tackles subjects fraught with controversy; namely, slavery and rape. Three women are left alone to protect their home while the men are away at war. Of course they have to defend not only property but also their physical safety. What’s more, these women don’t start off as equals.
Augusta is the eldest of the owner’s two daughters, headstrong and determined to succeed even though she’s “just” a woman. Louise, the younger sister, thinks she knows everything but doesn’t realize how much she’s been sheltered from the realities of the world. And Mad, the family’s slave, has seen more and lived through more and is thereby wiser and more prepared for what’s about to arrive at their farm. All three push the boundaries of what and who they’re supposed to be, and all three quickly realize the only way they’ll survive is together.
Each woman was given a time to shine, but Mad’s story, about what happened to her when she was 10 years old, showed how much she’d already survived to now be faced with even more brutality…broke my heart. (And I won’t even mention Bill because grrrr.) I’ll never forget Muna Otaru’s portrayal of Mad — especially that quiet little voice with which she told such a horrific story.
(Watched DVD on 2/22/2016)