The journey of The Keeping Room, from the page to a big screen theatrical release, has been a long and arduous one. Having featured on the 2012 Black List, the first screenplay from writer Julia Hart became the second feature length film from director, and Academy Award nominee, Daniel Barber – with the finished movie hitting the festival circuit in 2014. It gained steady momentum, racking up three Best Film nominations and a raft of impressive reviews as it went, and is now finally on its way to a wider cinema release on September 25th, 2015. This being the case, Drafthouse has opted to further whet our appetites with a brand new clip.
The decision to release this particular snippet of footage as a preview is an astute one from Drafthouse. The previously delivered trailer for the film encompasses all the stark beauty of Barber’s remarkable vision, while setting out clearly the slow-build of dramatic tension in the movie as a whole – all of which goes some way to prepare us for what is, in reality, an incredible viewing experience.
This clip, however, cuts to the chase. Here we see the three female leads of the film effectively under siege in their isolated, rural, Civil War-era homestead, as two soldiers taunt them – circling menacingly outside. As the enormity of the crisis sinks in for each woman in the scene, they individually reveal the nature of their characters – the warrior, the protector, and the innocent. This sequence is the essence of the plot, and the dark, brutal heart of the story.
The Keeping Room is not a film that can be easily defined, and that is among the greatest of its many successes. While the determination to categorise has seen it labelled many things – “feminist western” being chief among them – it is, in fact, a powerful and moving project from which the viewer can take whatever is needed. This film exists on its own terms, and because of that, all assumptions about the story and its characters are challenged, right from the start. Wherever you expect The Keeping Room to take you, there is little chance you can truly envision the actual route – via this newly released clip – to the final, devastating reel.