Film Review: Refuge

Sincere but unconvincing drama finds hope in a drunken one-night-stand.

A local production making the Hamptons feel a good deal less hospitable than they do during the fest, Jessica Goldberg's Refuge imagines a broken home and suggests that the addition of another wounded person might be just the thing to make it whole. Less convincing than it might have been on the stage, where Goldberg originated it, the picture may benefit at fests from the presence of Krysten Ritter.

Ritter plays Amy, whose parents went to Florida and never came back, leaving her to drop college and come to care for two damaged teenaged siblings (Madeleine Martin and Logan Huffman). Having slept her way through all the regulars at her local bar, she perks up after a one-night stand with Sam (Brian Geraghty), an inarticulate drifter who subsequently asks to rent the family's couch, then starts helping out around the house. Though outside forces conspire against them, the two begin to imagine patching together a family.

Ritter copes most successfully with the heaped-up misery Goldberg's script offers: By no means pleasant, her particular brand of emotional damage is credible. Others in the cast fare less well; Huffman's character, who recently had a brain tumor removed and has evidently been made susceptible to manipulation, is particularly problematic. Goldberg works to show the need the abandoned siblings have for each other, but their casual misbehavior belies that bond; beyond the sexual relationship Amy and Sam have, we see little strength in him that might cause this family to, as the title would have it, seek refuge in this particular stranger.

The Hollywood Reporter