Mass. – Writer-director-actor Tom O’Brien‘s feature debut, Fairhaven, is a small-scale but warmly satisfying drama about a trio of male friends from a sleepy Southeastern Massachusetts fishing village, reunited in their thirties for a funeral. Observed with emotional integrity and a sharp eye for both the comforting and claustrophobic details of hometown life, the film was a popular closing-night choice at the Provincetown Film Festival, where its bittersweet evocation of a coastal community from the region clearly struck chords.
Given that the central figure here is bad-boy Davey (Chris Messina), who blows back into town to reveal secrets and shake up dormant feelings, Fairhaven might almost be a less sardonic, guy-centric version of Young Adult. More than that, however, the film recalls another wintry reunion tale, the late Ted Demme‘s 1996 feature Beautiful Girls, which also brought melancholy humor to its portrait of romantic yearning, static lives and male friendship.
Jon (O’Brien) is a former footballer still griping to his therapist about not being the next Tom Brady. His salt-of-the earth mother (Maryann Plunkett) runs a local diner, and he just quit his fishing-boat job to try writing full-time. He’s also nervously feeling his way around an open relationship with New Age-y “laughter therapist” Angela (Alexie Gilmore).