"We're all niggers now," says bruised Georgia peach Augusta (Brit Marling), early on in Daniel Barber's (Harry Brown) rather literal take on Sherman's rape of the South. What she means is, when the menfolk are gone and the living's precarious, everybody's got to pitch in and do the dirty work, regardless of skin color. (She's tending the home fires with her younger sister Louise (Hailee Steinfeld) and their slave Mad (Muna Otaru).) What the film means is, when civilization goes south, being a woman carries with it its own risk of personal exploitation and degradation, and violence of various kinds may well be required to avoid it. (Exactly what goes on in the titular keeping room should require exactly zero imagination by this point.) Augusta makes it clear she'd rather be a wife than a warrior, but circumstances require otherwise. The landscape is appropriately lush, the brutality is deftly rendered, and if the action is minimal, that may be because it isn't quite the point. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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