Directed by Tom O’Brien
There should be some term for the existential malaise that hits in your mid-30s. Like a prelude to a mid-life crisis, it makes those who go through it take a step back, survey their accomplishments, and either reflect happily or ache for a new direction. The leads of Fairhaven, a trio of friends reunited for one of their fathers' funeral, are going through such a period. Unable to process their ennui, they revert to the ways of their youths, picking up women and smoking pot (“Arizona’s finest”); and while they’re too young to really consider their own mortality, the funeral forces the specter of death into their aimlessness.
The new orphan is Dave (Chris Messina, happily freed from affable boyfriend characters), wounded from a rough childhood and hardly in mourning for his estranged dad. He’s charming enough to talk a stripper into a post-shift threesome but at a loss with those closer to him, seeking solace in cocaine and distance. Messina delivers a strong performance, making Dave an uneasy presence but not an overtly threatening one. But the film is frustratingly vague on his true character. Is he dangerously unstable, or would his old friends benefit from adopting his devil-may-care attitude?
The film’s women are there to pull their men back on track, but they have their work cut out for them. Sam (Mad Men’s Rich Sommer) is unhappily divorced but happily a father, while Jon (writer-director O’Brien) frets over his polyamorous girlfriend and obsesses over a Tom Brady interview in which the quarterback wonders what he has to live for after accomplishing his dreams. As such, Fairhaven is the latest entry in the thirtysomething-angst genre, alongside Garden State and Lonesome Jim. But it lacks Garden’s operatic sincerity and Lonesome’s militant stoicism, landing instead in a nice, low-key middle. The characters don’t have lessons thrust upon them; their maturity is unforced, and we watch and nod in recognition.
Opens January 11