Fave Movie #85 – The Ref

1994

Cast – Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary, Judy Davis

Directed by Ted Demme

Gus is a thief.  He barely escaped his last heist and now he is stuck in a small Connecticut town on Christmas Eve because the police have blocked all of his routes out of town.  He takes Lloyd and Caroline, a married couple on the brink of divorce, hostage in their own home until he can figure out a way to escape the cops.  Except the bickering couple drives him nuts and the number of people coming to the house keeps growing. 

Why I love it– This is a dark comedy that is a perfect foil for the fluffy, feel-good holiday movies.  My favorite parts of the film are the rapid-fire, anger-filled exchanges between Lloyd (Spacey) and Caroline (Davis). This couple is riveting to watch and the small details of their unraveling marriage come out in bits and pieces, perfect to keep you watching.  How can they hate each other so much?   Leary was perfect as Gus, the long-suffering thief forced to put up with these rich people who seemed to have everything. 

Then the extended family arrives for dinner and the laughs provide relief from the uncomfortable family dynamics that come to an explosive head.  Glynis Johns as Lloyd’s mother and Christine Baranski as his sister-in-law were perfection!

After I watched this movie again yesterday I read that Demme had a different ending for Gus, but the test audiences hated it so he changed it.  Apparently he regretted doing so and I think I might have to agree with him.  I may have liked it even more the first way.   I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s something to think about if you watch it.

The movie’s not perfect, but there’s more good than bad and it has surprising depth.  If you dislike swearing, this may not be the movie for you.

My Top 100 List

6 thoughts on “Fave Movie #85 – The Ref

  1. Nise' says:

    My husband liked this movie. I probably was paying more attention to the book I was reading ;o).

    I was looking over your Top 100 list and see quite a few of mine there!

  2. Literary Feline says:

    I haven’t seen this one or even heard of it that I can remember. I have a terrible memory though so that isn’t saying much. LOL I’ll have to look for it. Thanks for the review, Stacy!

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