Kenny Riches’s A Name Without a Place is about grief, a weird recluse millionaire, and porn. But this exciting premise is also the film’s problem — it tries to be too much. Gordon Grafton (Bryan Burton) is struggling with the loss of his twin brother and dealing with his overbearing, much older, aging starlet girlfriend (Elizabeth McGovern). As a result, he decides to take a solo trip to the Florida Keys and along the way meets aspiring porn star Emma Lee (Charlotte Best) before the two ultimately crash their car into an eccentric’s (Patrick Fugit) secret estate.
The film was both written and directed by Kenny Riches who has worked on films like The Strongest Man and Isip the Warrior. Riches is no stranger to writing quirky characters embarking on weird adventures. The weird adventure is the best part of A Name Without a Place.The film is at its strongest when exploring the strangeness of millionaire Samuel Sussicran. Patrick Fugit stands out in the role of the frozen-in-time recluse — he’s funny and intriguing in a way that keeps the audience engaged. The rest of the cast also does an excellent job even with dialogue that can fall a little flat. Still, for the most part A Name Without a Place is funny, the jokes and gags land with ease. It’s also pretty good at being sad. The way flashbacks of Gordon’s time with his twin brother handle grief stand out the most.
All of these moments are backed by the beauty of Florida. Thanks to the art director Cara Despain, A Name Without a Place perfectly utilizes the natural weirdness of South Florida, as well as the way it can be a time capsule, particularly in the Keys. The settings of the film are unendingly recognizable to the South Florida native and infuses the scenes with the charm and kitschiness that only the Keys are capable of. This is further emphasized by cinematographer Tom Garner’s dreamy shots of Miami’s beaches and intimate Key West motels.
Unfortunately, for all the good that the film does have going for it, A Name Without a Place is overshadowed by messy plot points and conflicting genres. The film is plagued by a strange score better suited for horror films. This tense music is present throughout and is confusing considering the film’s comedic tone. Even in stressful moments the score becomes tiresome and is more of a distraction than anything else.
The film’s attempt to provide social commentary through Emma Lee’s porn star aspirations are also a strange choice, as this storyline doesn’t contribute to the main plot and instead seems more like a character trait that got out of hand. The eccentric millionaire plot also comes to an abrupt ending despite being the main focus of the film. Riches struggles with pacing as he tries to juggle a porn subplot and a mysterious mansion, all while the main character is trying to cope with the loss of his brother. A Name Without a Place has several things going for it. It’s charming and genuinely funny, and its subtle exploration of grief is interesting too but ultimately it suffers because of its lack of focus.
Valerie Lopez is a film intern who loves hearing herself talk about movies even more than watching them.