Authentic wintry New England light affects the cozy melancholy of Fairhaven, an impressively confident, nuanced little indie about life and its discontents in a Massachusetts fishing village for a trio of thirtysomething buddies. Dave (Chris Messina) has moved out West, and returns, restless and ambivalent, for his father’s funeral. The other two guys have stayed in the town that bred them, each blue in his own way: Sam (Mad Men’s Rich Sommer) is a divorced single dad who married too young, and Jon (Tom O’Brien) is a broody former high school football star who works on a fishing boat while dreaming of being a writer. O’Brien, a solid New York stage actor and playwright, also directed and co-wrote this debut feature film, and personal tenderness combines with a good sense of composition and a naturalistic storytelling style to give a small, familiar premise a nice lilt.
That O’Brien and the busy Messina (The Newsroom) are old pals — they wrote Fairhaven together — is evident in the ease with which the two play off each other. It’s a high level of craft upheld by everyone in the theater-seasoned cast, including Sarah Paulson as Sam’s empathetic ex-wife and the wonderful Maryann Plunkett in a small role as Jon’s mother. I hope we see more from filmmaker O’Brien and his interesting friends. (Also available on VOD, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere) B+