By David Kempler
Not a Haven, But Better Than Fair
What happens when one of the guys comes back to town to attend his father's funeral and his bunch of old buddies reunites to bond? Judging by "Fairhaven", not all that much. That isn't to say that their interactions don't feel real or that they are pointless. It's not even a condemnation. It's just a statement that nothing earth-shattering occurs, just like in real-life, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Jon (writer-director Tom O'Brien) is one of the guys who has remained in Fairhaven and his glory days on the football field are long gone. He is not despondent about this or suffering from horrific depression. He's more adrift and aimless than anything else. Jon is the hub of everything that occurs here, but just like in a good sitcom, he serves more as the unexciting center around whom the more electronic personalities orbit. If you ever saw the great television series, "Taxi", he is Alex, the Judd Hirsch character, or Jerry Seinfeld, on "Seinfeld".
Jon's oldest friend Dave (Chris Messina), is the wildest one from the old group and he is the one returning for his father's funeral. His return incites the major plot lines and while Dave is not particularly likeable, he's not a total creep, either. He's flawed, but who isn't? Jon and Dave hang out with Sam (Rich Sommer), their divorced friend, the third man in this triangle.
All three are lost in their own personal doldrums and hiding from something. Jon strives to find meaning in a life that feels like it has none because he is trying to be someone he isn't. What makes it worse, is that he is not sure who he really is. Dave's solution to everything is to get laid and run away, no matter the consequences of his actions. Sam is in eternal grieving for his lost marriage and he has retreated into a life of being afraid of ever loving again.
What saves "Fairhaven" from being totally ordinary or too much of a soap-opera is that Mr. O'Brien does not try to resolve everything in his main characters. All glimpse possible routes out of their bad patterns, but to O'Brien's credit, they don't all have revelations that lead them down the path to their own mental health. At its conclusion, we are not sure that any of them will ultimately succeed, let alone one of them. For that I am grateful. It's refreshing to see complicated and long-standing bad behaviors not immediately resolved. All have hope, but we don't have a clue how it will turn out for any of them. That is a fair way to wrap it up.