Refuge isn’t so much pretentious as it is dumb. Writer-director Schmudde figures out a fairly nice narrative to turn in on itself as protagonist Barret Walz keeps travels to Iowa but gets nowhere. It’s Groundhog Day as shoe gaze, white guy angst. Wait, I think that phrase is an oxymoron.
Walz is quite good in the lead, even though he has almost nothing to do. Maybe he just seems good because his most frequent screen partner, Tim Gamble, is awful. Schmudde has talent for composition and especially for tying sequences together–even the flashy, CG ones are impressive–but he has none for directing actors. Walz can cope without guidance, Gamble can’t.
Great photography from Kevin Moss helps gloss over Schmudde and Nick Martin’s graceless editing.
The first forty-five seconds are truly wondrous; by the last fourth the narrative tripe is obvious and debilitating. Refuge–unfortunately–fails.
Written and directed by David Schmudde; director of photography, Kevin Moss; edited by Nick Martin and Schmudde; produced by Kathryn Henderson.
Starring Barret Walz (Grant), Tim Gamble (Farmer), Ann Sonneville (Eachelle) and Jacquelyn Zook (Anne).