"Refuge" Looks at the Underbelly of the Hamptons

Photo Credit: Caliber Media C
October 19th, 2012

"Refuge" Looks at the Underbelly of the Hamptons

-- In the late 1990s, playwright Jessica Goldberg wrote a play that premiered in New York City; in 2012, the movie version of the play, called "Refuge," premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The movie focuses on the permanent residents of popular vacation spots-in this case, the Hamptons.

"Refuge" tells the story of a woman named Amy, who struggles to make a living in the posh environs of the Hamptons. Amy is young, but took over the responsibility of raising her brother and sister after their parents abandoned them. When she meets a wanderer at a bar, he ends up becoming part of the family's life.

Director and writer Jessica Goldberg adapted her original play for the movie version, which shows a side of the Hamptons that most summer residents don't get to see. The area is famously a summer retreat for the East Coast's rich and famous, while the lower-income residents, who handle most of the service jobs in town, fade into the background. In "Refuge," they take center stage.

Goldberg, along with her cast and crew, shot the movie on location in Southampton during the winter. She worked in partnership with producers from the Caliber Media Company, who have set a goal of shooting at least one film per year on location in the Hamptons as a way to boost the local economy during the off-season. Filming for the movie took place in February of 2011 when the area was all but deserted.

The movie stars Krysten Ritter, who is best known for her work on the television series "Breaking Bad." Ritter has a long list of TV and film credits to her name, including "One Life to Live," "Confessions of a Shopaholic," "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23," and "Gilmore Girls." The character actress has made a career out of goofy roles as the best friend and sidekick to the main character. As the leading lady in "Refuge," Ritter explores a deeper, darker role. In the movie, Amy is a parental figure who struggles to find the money to pay her bills and take care of her family-not to mention finding love and maintaining relationships. To prepare for the role, Ritter drew on her own background as a small-town girl from a middle-class family.

Ritter's real-life boyfriend, Brian Geraghty, plays her on-screen love interest, Sam, in "Refuge." At the time of filming, the two had been dating for just three months, which added an element of realism to the story. As a result of their off-screen relationship, the actors have a palpable chemistry that translates well to the film. Although each actor has stated that they were slightly apprehensive about the initial casting choice and the effect it would have on their new relationship, their fears appear to be unfounded; at the time of the movie's premiere in October of 2012, the two were still dating.

"Refuge" uses an ensemble cast model that focuses on the dynamics of the group rather than a single star performer. Madeline Martin, who is best known for her role as David Duchovny's daughter on the television series "Californication," plays Amy's younger sister, Lucy. The actress, who is often cast in roles that require her to access her adult side, has commented that she enjoyed the chance to play a character who was not required to be old before her time. Logan Huffman plays Amy's younger brother, Nat, a teenager who suffered a brain injury. Huffman is best known for his work on the movie "V." Geraghty rounds out the seasoned cast, bringing his experience and wisdom from his work on the movies "Jarhead" and "The Hurt Locker."

The movie's title alludes to the refuge Sam finds in Amy's family. After spending months wandering the country as a means of healing, he finds comfort in their familial bonds. Despite their problems-like Lucy's drug use and Nat's physical struggles-the little group is tightly knit and loving. Though each character is lost in some way, they find refuge in each other and the life they create together. Goldberg's original play and her adapted screenplay use honest, straightforward language that creates a sense of reality around the characters and situations. The use of actual Hamptons locations in filming lends credibility to the story and the characters.

Staying true to its premise and location, "Refuge" premiered on October 6, 2012 at the East Hampton Cinema to a packed crowd. Most of the cast and crew were in attendance for the premiere and the after party, which was held at a local restaurant. Producers from the Caliber Media Company have stated that the film is another in a long line of independent movies that they plan to film on location in the Hamptons.