7 Questions 'The Keeping Room' Trailer Will Leave You With, Because Brit Marling & Hailee Steinfeld's New Film Looks Intriguing
The best film previews give viewers just enough information to intrigue them, but not so much that the mystery is gone. But, there's a subcategory that's perhaps even more fun — the trailer that makes you think you know what's going on, but really still plays its cards very close to the chest. This is case for the trailer The Keeping Room — aka, the new Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld film — which was released earlier today. There's horseback riding, picturesque landscapes, shoot-outs, explosions, and a siege in its two-minute span, but still: it gives away next to nothing of its plot.
But, what we do know heralds what could be a very awesome film. As depicted in the trailer, Marling and Steinfeld play sisters in the Deep South towards the end of the Civil War. They reside with their family's slave Mad (Muna Otaru) while the men of the house are off fighting the war, or perhaps already dead on the battlefield. It's rare for a western to feature three female leads, but these women occupy much of the screen time of the trailer — and presumably of the film. Still, the trailer reads like a Terrence Malick work — cinematic yet without a real narrative arc. The trailer, below, left me with a whole lot of questions, and hopefully the film will live up to its potential and answer them all.
What If They Are The Only Ones Left?
"What if all the men killed all the other men? What if it's the end of the world, and we the last ones left?" Marling's character asks in a voice-over. Based on the trailer, it's a pretty sparsely populated universe — is it possible that the sisters and the few people in town are really the only ones left? Is this film going to take a sudden turn for the I Am Legend scenario?
Where Do They Live?
In a period piece, often the setting is as important as anything else — it's an homage to a bygone time or an unexplored region. Where in the Deep South, exactly, is The Keeping Room set, and does it matter?
What Happens At The End Of The Story?
"I remember daddy telling a story about a girl and her sister — the girl was going to be killed by a king." I smell an allegory here.
Who Is Sam Worthington's Character?
He appears in the pub where Marling's character rides into town, and then he seems to lay siege to their house. Who is he, and why does he follow the women home?
And Why Do They Want Him Dead?
When Worthington's character chases them down, Marling, Otaru, and Steinfeld seem to shoot right back. What does he want from them, and why are they resisting?
What Are The Women Hiding From?
There is a terrifying inside-outside dichotomy happening in this trailer. Inside the house, the women are trapped — they barricade themselves in. Outside, the would-be intruders lie in wait. But the choppy editing of the trailer leaves questions about when and where everything occurs. Unless it gives away its own ending (there are quite a few explosions), it seems like there's something more at stake than this one face-down. What are the characters hiding from?
What Significance Does The Keeping Room Have?
A keeping room was a primarily colonial invention — a room that adjoined the kitchen where chores and prep-work would occur. In winter months, families would gather in the keeping room to conserve heat. But what purpose could the keeping room have in The Keeping Room to lead it to title the film?
Where Is That Flaming Carriage Going?
A pair of hands set fire to a carriage and turn it loose. It careens across the screen in the first moments of the trailer, but doesn't reappear.
The trailer conveys the aesthetic of the film — muted colors, concise dialogue, a lot of nighttime — without getting at too much of how the narrative works. It sets up far more questions than it answers. But Hailee Steinfeld entered the spotlight during her work on True Grit, so it will be exciting to see her take on a darker film of the same genre. From the looks of it, three leading ladies are three more reasons to see how The Keeping Room shapes up.
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